Earlier the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant announced a 7.6% increase in its dividend to $0.42 per share each quarter, lower than the hike analysts were looking for. Take IHS Markit: Last week it said in a research report the quarterly dividend should go to $0.43 a share from $0.39 a share, increasing the yield to 2.3%. “Since 2010, the company raised the quarterly dividend annually in September with increases ranging from $0.03 to $0.05,” wrote Vik Parmar, an analyst at IHS Markit, in a research note at the time.
Looking for Any Weakness
“Given the current number of shares outstanding, the proposed dividend will cost Microsoft about $13 billion per annum. Meanwhile, Stifel analyst Brad Redback said in a note to clients that while he expected the dividend hike to be in the 10% to 15% range, he would buy on any weakness in the stock. In a statement to Investopedia, IHS Markit’s Parmar said that even though the dividend was only a cent lower than the firm projected, “we detect a sense of conservatism with regards to the dividend as the company ventures more and more into accretive acquisitions; the recent $26bn acquisition of LinkedIn being a prime example.” (See also: Activist Investor Morfit Exiting Microsoft Board.)
While Wall Street and investors expected a higher pay out, Market Realist pointed out that the dividend trajectory at Microsoft has been declining since last year, even as the amount of the dividend rises. Recently shares were trading down 0.46% or $0.35 a share to $75.10. What’s more, Market Realist noted the dividend increase Wednesday is the second time in the row in which the raise is lower than 10% and the third time it has upped the dividend in the single-digit-percentage range during the last 10 years. In 2016, Microsoft’s dividend went up $0.03 a share each quarter, marking a 8% increase. The company also agreed to buy back $40 billion in shares last year, noted Barron’s. (See also: A Dependable Dividend ETF.)