Apple May Become S&P’s Dividend Leader in 2014

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Apple campusApple (NASDAQ:AAPL) may become the biggest dividend payer in the S&P 500 index in 2014, reports Maggie McGrath at Forbes. According to data from financial information and services company Markit via Forbes, Apple has been forecasted to shell out $11.8 billion in dividends this year, almost 15 percent more than last year. The California-based company’s expected 2014 dividend payout represents 30 percent of its earnings.

Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) is expected to be close behind Apple with $11.7 billion in dividend payouts this year. If Markit’s forecast is accurate, this would be a reversal of last year’s positions, when Exxon Mobil narrowly beat out Apple’s $10.6 billion in dividend payments with a total of $10.7 billion. The oil and gas multinational took the lead from Apple last year after the iPhone maker reduced its total share count with an expansion of its share repurchase program. Exxon Mobil’s $11.7 billion in dividend payments is 8.5 percent more than it paid out last year and equals a dividend payout ratio of 36 percent.

However, as noted by Forbes, Markit also observed that Apple’s expected dividend payout may depend on “how fast and aggressive its share repurchases occur in the upcoming year especially given activist pressure to increase the program.” Markit was likely referring to activist investor Carl Icahn’s ongoing efforts to expand Apple’s share buyback program.

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