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Apple Investors Sound Off on Dividend

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Apple (AAPL - Get Report) investors are split on the company's decision to dive back into dividends and repurchase shares, as the company's cash strategy continues to fuel intense debate.

"I was disappointed with Apple's dividend and buyback for one basic reason: It doesn't increase shareholder value in any lasting or meaningful way," said Ernie Varitimos, who runs the Apple Investor Trade Room.
Apple investors are split on the company's dividend and share repurchase plan.

"How does removing a tangible resource from Apple's bank and sprinkling it around like pixie dust increase the value of Apple?" he added. "It doesn't -- it just looks pretty for a short while until it all fades away, like casting a handful of sparkles into the ocean."

On Monday, Apple confirmed that it plans to initiate a quarterly dividend of $2.65 per share, sometime in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012, which begins July 1. The company's board also authorized a $10 billion share-repurchase program, starting in fiscal 2013, which begins Sept. 30.

Varitimos, however, believes that Apple should be investing its money in heavy-duty M&A. "Wouldn't it be great if Apple finally put an end to Adobe's (ADBE - Get Report) ingratitude and simply bought the company so it would once again focus on the Mac instead of Windows, as the predominant graphics and media machine?" he wrote, in an email to TheStreet. "Perhaps Apple could invest in network infrastructure, start buying up all the telcos and install high-speed wireless coast-to-coast and around the world."

Other Apple investors, though, took a more positive view of the new cash strategy. "The market was right to expect a move of this sort, and management was correct to deliver as it did," said Scott Grannis, who writes the Calafia Beach Pundit blog. "The dividend payout and the stock buybacks are neither aggressive nor skimpy, just very conservative -- the company has plenty of latitude to expand these programs over time if conditions warrant."

Apple, which had a cash hoard of almost $98 billion at the end of its recent fiscal first quarter, has come under pressure to start paying a dividend again. The iPhone maker stopped paying a dividend in 1995, but CEO Tim Cook had hinted that Apple may reverse its stance after he was appointed to lead the tech giant last year.
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