Microsoft shares don't seem to be reacting to the news Monday, down roughly 1%.
"Expect a dividend hike on Tuesday," Stifel analysts wrote in a note out to clients late Monday. Microsoft has announced a dividend increase on the third Tuesday of every September for the past eight years, and that the increase should be roughly 10%-15%. The average percent increase in the dividend in the past eleven years has been 14.2%. The increase in 2012 was 25%.
The dividend increase "would imply an annual dividend of $1.85/share to $1.93/share," or 1.6% to 1.7% the note said, which is up from the current amount of roughly $1.68 a share, or a 1.49% yield.
Stifel, which is fairly positive on Microsoft, said it "continues to execute well as the company benefits from its strong positioning across major secular compute themes," giving it a price target of $118, about 5% above the stock's current level. Perhaps most important for the dividend, Stifel analysts expect Microsoft's performance to be sufficient to satisfy the company's plan of returning roughly $20 billion to shareholders. Microsoft's competitive positioning in many of its businesses "should enable Microsoft to continue to deliver accelerating operating profit and free-cash-flow generation in coming quarters," the note said.
Microsoft has been one of the most shorted stocks this year, although it has performed exceptionally well. The software company has blown the broader U.S. market out of the water this year, returning almost 30% so far. It is also one of a select few stocks that could be the next $1 trillion stock, as Apple currently is.
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