“Apple Inc.’s earnings reports are always fodder for chatter about the iPhone maker’s cash reserves, but Tuesday should bring an update on one the most common uses of the company’s cash: Shipping it back to investors,” Jeremy C. Owens reports for MarketWatch.

“Apple has increased its investor return program around fiscal second-quarter earnings every year since 2012, when it originally announced its first dividends and stock buybacks since Steve Jobs’s triumphant return,” Owens reports. “The program’s goal has increased from $45 billion to $100 billion to $130 billion to $200 billion to $250 billion, with Chief Executive Tim Cook repeatedly referencing Apple’s record stock buybacks amid occasional calls for even larger increases.”

“Through the end of the calendar year 2016, Apple had pushed $201 billion back to investors since 2012, mostly through $144 billion in share repurchases. That leaves less than $50 billion in an authorization that runs through March, so Apple is nearly a lock to add billions more, leaving the total as the major question,” Owens reports. “Apple could give investors another $50 billion and be confident that it will be net-cash-positive for the year. If Apple adds that much or more, expect executives to address the possibility of tapping the debt markets again… Apple’s debt load has grown to $75 billion from zero since 2012, which allows it to avoid repatriation taxes on overseas cash while paying investors; net cash subtracts that debt.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We’ll know soon enough – right around 4:30pm EDT today!

Again, we expect a 9-11% dividend hike this year. There very well could be another $50 billion added to the capital return program. After tax repatriation, we’d love to see Apple issue a special dividend to reward shareholders.

SEE ALSO:
Apple’s annual dividend decision day: America’s about to get a raise – May 2, 2017
Analyst: Apple may boost dividend and buyback program to reward shareholders – May 1, 2017
Get ready for up to 10.5% hike in Apple’s dividend – April 21, 2017
Analyst: Apple could double dividend, buy Netflix with repatriated cash under President Trump’s U.S. corporate tax changes – March 17, 2017
Apple’s real dividend yield is much higher than you might think – March 10, 2017
Apple preps to distribute dividends totaling $3.1 billion to shareholders – February 8, 2017