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Last week's Apple stock dividend hike of 10.5% has added another trophy to the company's wall of achievements.
With the increase, Apple Inc.'s (Nasdaq: AAPL) total annual dividend payment will rise to $13.22 billion, making it the largest in the world.
"They pay out more than U.S. Steel is worth," Howard Silverblatt, a senior index analyst with S&P Dow Jones Indices, pointed out in an email following Apple's earnings report.
And naturally, the company Apple knocked out of the No. 1 position was Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM), which is expected to pay out $12.77 billion in dividends this year.
Over the past decade, Apple has wrested one title after another from Exxon Mobil, symbolizing the changing of the guard from Big Oil to Big Tech…
The Apple Stock Dividend Title Completes the Series
Apple fired its first warning shot in 2010 when it surpassed Exxon in cash on hand. Falling profits caused Exxon's cash pile to shrink to $36.76 billion, while Apple's cash surged to $51.31 billion. Apple now has the biggest cash pile of any company in the world with $256.8 billion.
The first crown Apple took from Exxon was world's most valuable company. Apple first passed Exxon in market capitalization in 2011, but the oil giant didn't surrender without a struggle.
The two traded places a few times over the next couple of years, but Apple left Exxon behind for good in 2013. Today, Apple's market cap sits at a record $800 billion, while Exxon Mobil's valuation is less than half of that at $352 billion. (Exxon is in seventh place overall these days.)
Apple also moved past Exxon in one other metric in 2013: total number of employees. Apple had grown to 80,300 by 2013, while Exxon Mobil had shrunk to 75,000 from 83,600 in 2010. (But neither has ever come close to the more than 2 million employees of No. 1 Wal-Mart Stores Inc. [NYSE: WMT].)
The next title fell in 2015 when Apple bested Exxon's record for most profit earned in a year (excluding non-recurring revenue). Apple earned $53.4 billion in its fiscal 2015, easily topping the $45.22 billion Exxon Mobil earned in 2008.
Just for some perspective, Apple's record profits in 2015 were so huge they were more than double that of the company with the second-largest profits, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) with $24.4 billion.
Now Apple has done it again, eclipsing Exxon's dividend payout. And as we've seen, Apple's lead only figures to get bigger.
With a payout ratio – the proportion of earnings paid out in dividends — of just 28.1%, the AAPL stock dividend has a lot of room to grow in the years to come. (Exxon Mobil's payout ratio is 78.4%.)
Apple has publicly committed to raising its dividend every year on several occasions, most recently during last week's Q2 earnings conference call. And it continues to rake in the most profits of any company on the planet.
So as things stand, the Apple stock dividend will set a new world record every year for the foreseeable future. It will be a long time before Apple is dethroned as the dividend-paying king.
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