FORTUNE -- Armchair CEOs, eyeing Apple's (AAPL) growing mountain of cash and marketable securities, have urged it over the years to buy everything from Facebook (FB) and Yahoo (YHOO) to Sony (SNE), Adobe (ADBE) and Disney (DIS).
Last quarter, Apple finally made a major acquisition. And what did it buy?
It bought Apple.
By my (revised) calculation, the company spent $16 billion last quarter ($4 billion in cash, $12 billion through the so-called accelerated share repurchase program) to purchase 32.5 million of its own shares at an average price of about $492.
Most of those shares -- about 22 million -- were retired in fiscal Q3, leaving Apple with 908 million shares outstanding, according to its latest 10-Q. The rest will be retired in Q4.
UPDATE: Dediu has taken a crack at nailing down these somewhat fuzzy numbers. He gets an average per share price of $488.25. See Apple's biggest acquisition.
UPDATE 2: The spreadsheet above was revised to reflect the commentary below by readers who clearly understand better than I do the mechanics of share repurchase programs.
Its quarterly earnings report is a reality check on three months of speculation.
FORTUNE -- Today at about 4:30 p.m. Eastern, Apple (AAPL) will report its results for the March quarter, and the fog of rumors and speculation that has swirled around the company since January will lift -- if only for a day or two.
This is Apple's quarterly reality check, its chance to answer questions that have weighed on the MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 23, 2013 8:26 AM ET
Bernstein's Apple analyst says investors are expecting the equivalent of a 4.5% yield.
FORTUNE -- According to Bernstein Research's Toni Sacconaghi, Apple's (AAPL) top brass has been holding "widespread discussions" with key investors to get input on its plans to return more of its $137.1 billion cash hoard to shareholders.
Sacconaghi has been debriefing those investors and now thinks he has a pretty good idea of how Apple's cash management plans have MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 15, 2013 11:20 AM ET
Another day, another Apple-bashing headline on Seeking Alpha
FORTUNE -- When you write about Apple's (AAPL) finances for a living, your fingers can get tired of typing -- and your readers can get tired of reading -- "cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities" every time you want to refer to the company's hoard of liquid assets.
I try to be precise, but from time to time I spare my fingers -- and MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Mar 5, 2013 8:02 AM ET
The Street is taking bets on how many billions might be distributed to the shareholders
FORTUNE -- In the wake of the David Einhorn's legal challenge and Apple's (AAPL) statement in response, a flurry of analysts' notes:
Bill Shope, Goldman Sachs: The capital allocation theme heats up. "While we do not take a view on the basis of the legal proceeding, we believe this latest example of shareholder activism serves to highlight Apple's MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Feb 8, 2013 10:34 AM ET
Simply and transparently? Or through a complex scheme designed by a hedge fund?
FORTUNE -- After Thursday's Wall Street drama -- in which a media blitz orchestrated by hedge fund billionaire David Einhorn got a rise out of Apple (AAPL) management and a pop in the stock price -- I have a few thoughts about what's going on.
First, I take the company at its word (see statement) that it's got way more MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Feb 8, 2013 6:35 AM ET
The only thing that seems to matter to Wall Street is how much cash it has in the bank
FORTUNE -- It's been a year since Asymco's Horace Dediu -- mystified by the apparent decoupling of Apple's (AAPL) share price from its earnings growth -- first spotted the correlation between the company's valuation and its holdings in cash and marketable securities.
"As far as the market is concerned," he wrote at the MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - May 7, 2012 8:04 AM ET
Most likely scenario: ongoing dividend. Less likely: special dividend or stock buyback
UPDATE: Apple chose options Nos. 1 and 3:
A 2.65% quarterly dividend, starting in fiscal Q4, which ends in September. Expect this to cost more than $10 billion in the first year alone.
A $10 billion stock repurchase plan starting in fiscal Q1 2013 spread out over the next three years, primarily to offset share dilution due to incentive stock grants.
Total MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Mar 19, 2012 6:16 AM ET
We'll find out Monday, one half hour before the market opens
Tim Cook has scheduled a conference call for 9 a.m. EDT Monday to answer the question Wall Street has been asking -- repeatedly, and with increasing insistence -- for years: What does the company plan to do with its enormous stockpile of cash and marketable securities, worth just under $100 billion as of the last quarterly report.
Mr. Market will be MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Mar 18, 2012 7:23 PM ET
The company is likely to hold on to its $100 billion cash hoard -- at least for now
I suspect that the number one question on the mind of Apple (AAPL) shareholders gathering today at 1 Infinite Loop for the company's annual meeting is what Tim Cook plans to do with Apple's roughly $100 billion in cash and marketable securities.
"I think it's clear to everyone, and I'd be the first to admit, MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Feb 23, 2012 8:02 AM ET
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