This is utter nonsense, a supreme untruth, wasted breadth and a failure to come to grips with reality. In the past quarter Apple increased its cash and short term investments to $50 billion as I wrote it would six weeks ago.
Apple currently has 914 million outstanding shares. With the stock trading around $300 per share, a 2% dividend yield would require $6 per share or, $5.5 billion dollars annually to cover the distribution.
To give you an idea of how easy it would be to meet this allocation (and how blatant is the lie), a year ago, Q3 2009, Apple reported $31.1 billion of cash or cash equivalents. Having added about $19 billion to its war chest over the last year, it could actually pay as much as a 5% yield out of cash flow without breaking stride.
Job's touched on the idea of an acquisition. This too does not require anywhere near the money he is hoarding. To give you some idea of how much money this is, he could buy News Corp (NWS) valued at $39 billion and own a highly diversified media company by just writing a check -- zero debt -- and still have $11 billion in the bank and growing.
Of course a 50% leveraged deal would be more than adequate, so he would have closer to $30.5 billion left over. That would be just dandy because he could buy out Boeing (BA) valued at $52 billion with a $26 billion down payment. Then he could start working on the iPlane. I wonder if anyone has registered that name yet?
Any way you slice it, Apple has an outrageous amount of money and could pay a sizable dividend without blinking. The fact that Steve Jobs is resisting relates more to hubris than anything else. If I was an Apple shareholder I would be concerned that the money might just as easily be spent on some misguided adventure instead of adding long term value. Jobs and Company is not Warren Buffett, Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A), who is one of the few that has demonstrated the ability to successfully allocate enormous amounts of capital.
Sheldon Liber is the CEO of a small private investment company and the principal for design and research at an architecture and planning firm. He writes the columns Chasing Value™ and Serious Money. Disclosure: He owns shares of BRK.B.