Apple shakes up shares

While Apple has not made much new lately it appears it has been doing a financial ballet to keep shareholders interested.

The outfit has approved another $30 billion in share buybacks till the end of 2015 and authorized a rarely seen seven-for-one stock split.

Apple has been called on to start sharing more of its cash hoard and broaden the stock’s appeal to individual investors.

The company also approved a roughly eight percent increase in its quarterly dividend to $3.29 per share.

Activist investor Carl Icahn, who had famously called on the iPhone maker to boost its buyback program, tweeted his approval of the move on Wednesday.

Shares of the company which have been stuck between $500 to $550 range since the start of the year, jumped 7 percent to $561.51.

Apple reported sales of 43.7 million iPhones in the quarter ended March, far outpacing the roughly 38 million that Wall Street had predicted. That drove a 4.6 percent rise in revenue to $45.6 billion and beat Wall Street’s projections for about $43.5 billion.

However, what Apple has not done is produce any new product and its long term future is a little shaky. The smartphone market is maturing and rivals like Samsung are taking chunks out of its mobile-device market share.

So far all the hype about the next phone has centred on the fact it will have a bigger screen, something that its rivals have had for ages.

Speculation persists that the company will take the lead in wearable devices with a smartwatch or other gadget, given that Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has spoken about “new product categories” for 2014. So far this has been vapourware.

More cynical analysts say that the reason for Apple’s current boom quarter is that the outfit got a spike in revenue in China and Japan thanks to inclusion of NTT Docomo and China Mobile as carrier partners. China, which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan, climbed 13 percent to $9.29 billion in the quarter. Japanese sales rose 26 percent to $3.96 billion.

However the China sales did not do nearly as well as Apple hoped and in the long term may not pan out to be Jobs’ Mob’s great white hope.