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The 5 Dumbest Things on Wall Street This Week: March 23

4. Apple's Premature Pay Day

Listen up folks. Before we get started, please note for the record that we are not calling Apple's (AAPL - Get Report) dividend/buyback plan dumb. Far from it.

Hey, these guys were smart enough to bank $100 billion in first place, so who are we to mock them for giving it back to investors. The tech giant aims to start paying a quarterly dividend of $2.65 per share, sometime during its fiscal fourth quarter, while also undertaking a $10 billion share-repurchase program in the company's fiscal 2013.

Once again, bully for them! An Apple dividend a quarter keeps the "Can Tim Cook fill Steve Jobs shoes?" questions away -- at least for a while. That's because it's harder for the increasing number of Apple's value-oriented shareholders to complain about the company's cash hoard when their coupon checks keep coming in.

That said, and then repeated, while Apple's decision to announce a dividend was not the dumbest thing we witnessed on Wall Street this week, we also can't say that it was the smartest thing either.

Why? Because as TheStreet's (TST) very own Jim Cramer alertly points out, Apple's dividend announcement upstaged the news that it sold more than three million new iPads over the weekend.

"For those of us who waited in line to get one we understood that something so special was going on that the dividend stole the thunder from the actual story, a new device that I think is taking America by storm," wrote Cramer over on Real Money.

Said differently, Apple does not release a mind-blowing new product every day, so Tim Cook probably should have saved that nugget of good news for a rainy day should the company -- heaven forbid -- release a new gadget that fails to thrill the throngs.

Look, we know it sounds impossible for Apple to swing and miss with a new product, especially considering the roll it's on. But remember folks, the Newton is not a figment of our imagination. And Tim Cook may need to milk that dividend for all its worth to wash away the taste should such a flop happen again.
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