Paying dividends might backfire, because it is an act of a "mature company". Does Apple want that image? It seems like Tim Cook was getting somewhat defensive about the idea.
It's a generally perceived that a company that pays dividends and buys back stock is a company that has run out of ideas. At least that's how many people perceived Microsoft when it started issuing a dividend and implemented a stock buy-back program.
Had a project manager at my desk once yelling at me about some deadline he agreed on, told him that I have a couple of million dollars in the bank of some idea I sold to Microsoft, and that I didnt need to put up with his crap, so if he was not happy with me, just replace me I dont care, I'm rich!
Took him two hours of googlingwithbingsearch to figure out I was flatout lying, it actually was a couple of billions, j/k, meanwhile I fixed the issue.
It would be so cool to still show up at your pathetic job, but with whole different attitude.
@Dr Herbie: Well, they could invest in other technologies or brands.
I think a company can also donate to charity: investors might not like it and the board would have to approve it, but I think that is an option.
The board are legally obliged to keep the company in good faith for the benefit of the shareholders. They are therefore not allowed to give money to charity without either
A) Explicit approval from the majority of shareholders via a shareholder vote.
B) Demonstrate to the shareholders how such a donation is in the best interests of the company.
If the board perform actions that are not in good faith for the benefit of shareholders, they are committing a federal offence. If they do so in good faith, but it is to the detriment of the shareholders, then the shareholders can still remove their bonus, pay or fire them via a general shareholder vote - and getting kicked out of a company for mismanagement by the shareholders will end that executive's career forever.
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