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Computers

Apple boosts capital return program to $200 billion

The company gives shareholders even more to be happy about with a dividend increase and new funds to buy back shares.

James Martin/CNET

Apple has made a substantial move to give more of its huge cash stockpiles back to shareholders, announcing Monday it increased its capital return program to $200 billion.

The company raised its share repurchase authorization to $140 billion from $90 billion. It also increased its quarterly dividend by 11 percent, to 52 cents a share.

Apple's previous program authorized $130 billion in cash back to shareholders by the end of 2015.

In all the capital return program was boosted by more than 50 percent. Under the expanded authorization, Apple plans to give back a total of $200 billion in cash by the end of March 2017.

"We believe Apple has a bright future ahead, and the unprecedented size of our capital return program reflects that strong confidence," CEO Tim Cook said in a statement Monday. "While most of our program will focus on buying back shares, we know that the dividend is very important to many of our investors, so we're raising it for the third time in less than three years."

Overall, Apple ended the quarter with $193.5 billion in cash plus marketable securities, up $15.6 billion from three months earlier. More than $171 billion of that money is held overseas.

Apple had said that it would announce an update to its capital return plan at the same time as its fiscal second-quarter results, which also were reported Monday.

Apple has been taking steps to return more money to shareholders since Cook took over as CEO. A year ago, Apple announced it would give investors six additional shares of stock for every Apple share they owned as of June 2, 2014. Because of the split, shares now trade at a much lower level than in the past -- around $100 instead of $600 --but it also makes the stock more accessible to investors. Still, some investors, such as Carl Icahn, have asked for Apple to distribute even more of its massive cash hoard to shareholders.

Shares of Apple, the highest-valued public company in the world, rose about 1 percent after hours and are up about 20 percent since the start of the year. The company is already valued above $750 billion, about twice as much as as the second most-valued company, Microsoft.