The challenge for many investors, however, is reconciling this stance -- Apple seldom makes acquisitions. When it does, the buys tend to be small, tuck-in deals. Unlike many of its contemporaries in Silicon Valley, Apple has proved its ability to grow without spending big on mergers and acquisitions.

"The company has exercised exemplary fiscal discipline throughout this growth phase -- both in controlling expenses and avoiding costly acquisitions," explained Bernstein in its letter, adding that a dividend could attract a new class of investors. "There are investment managers with mandates that they invest only in dividend-paying stocks -- additionally, some investors are ideologically opposed to investing in companies that lack a clear policy on cash usage."

Apple's shares gained $1.77, or 0.71%, to reach $251.96 on Thursday despite a modest retreat in tech stocks that saw the Nasdaq slip 0.81%.

-- Reported by James Rogers in New York

Follow James Rogers on Twitter.

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