FORTUNE -- Apple (AAPL) opened Thursday at $464.02. An hour and nine minutes later, it hit $457.95, having shed more than $5.5 billion in market value.
One never knows on Wall Street, but the most likely explanation is that traders who bought Apple for its $3.05-per-share dividend sold it as soon as the stock went ex-dividend, which was 9:30 a.m. Thursday morning.
Over the past year, Apple was under a lot of pressure from institutional investors to return some of its cash to shareholders, which it finally did last April in the form of a massive stock buyback and a relatively generous dividend.
Investors who are in Apple for the long term do enjoy the benefits of what is, at the stock's current price, a 2.6% annual return.
But so do the traders who are in it for a quick buck, and I suspect they are the ones who drove the stock down Thursday morning.
Apple recovered somewhat, closing Thursday at $461.01, down only $3.97 (0.85%) for the day.
Shares purchased before the markets close Wednesday May 8 can collect $3.05 apiece.
FORTUNE -- Apple (AAPL) announced April 23 that it was increasing its stock repurchase plan five-fold and raising its annual dividend 15%.
The first dividend pay date under the new formula is May 16 for shares on record as of May 13. Which means the stock goes ex-dividend on May 9.
All that is a long, complicated and unnecessarily obscure MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - May 8, 2013 11:43 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
Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty thinks Apple should borrow to pay its shareholders
FORTUNE -- While Greenlight Capital's David Einhorn was lobbying shareholders Thursday to support his perpetual preferred stock idea (see Would you buy an iPref from this man?), Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty has been meeting with the Apple (AAPL) executive who rejected Einhorn's proposal last September: Chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer.
In a note to clients Friday, Huberty reports that she MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Feb 22, 2013 6:47 AM ET
What do any of their concerns have to do with building great products?
FORTUNE -- If Tim Cook needed further validation of Steve Jobs' policy of ignoring the needs and entreaties of Apple's (AAPL) shareholders, the results of the survey at right, released Wedenesday, could provide it.
It comes from a recent luncheon in New York City with several dozen Apple investors that was hosted by Barclays analysts Ben Reitzes and Anthony DiClemente.
If "the MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Dec 12, 2012 11:45 AM ET
With Bush tax cuts set to expire, there's a lot of talk about Apple spreading its wealth
FORTUNE -- If you do a Google search for "Apple special dividend" today you might think Apple (AAPL) shareholders are about to win the lottery. Sample headlines:
Insider Monkey: Will Apple Inc. pay a special dividend?
Seeking Alpha: Should Apple issue a special dividend?
Market Watch: Hedge manager sees Microsoft, Apple special dividends
Seeking Alpha: The case for Apple's MORE
The stock repurchase plan announced in March begins this week
FORTUNE -- Almost lost in the news last March 19 that Apple (AAPL) was initiating a $2.65-per-share dividend was Part 2 of the two-part announcement: A three-year $10 billion stock repurchase plan commencing in fiscal 2013, which began on Sunday.
The repurchase plan -- designed to offset the shares Apple was giving its employees in lieu of larger salaries -- was neither MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Oct 1, 2012 6:48 AM ET
The dividend is one reason it's up. But what was keeping it down was fear.
The investors who mull over the mysteries of Apple's (AAPL) valuation at Investor Village's AAPL Sanity board have been trying to come to grips with the shape of the chart at right, which shows the company's stock price drifting sideways for most of 2011 and then taking off like a Scud missile in 2012.
Although recent gains MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 6, 2012 11:09 AM ET
Since February 14, the stock has hit 27 new highs in 31 trading days
"We're not going to go have a toga party or do something outlandish, and so people don't have to worry [the cash] is going to burn a hole in our pocket." -- Tim Cook
Conventional wisdom had it that Apple's (AAPL) share price would take off once the company declared a dividend.
Turns out, all it took was a MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Mar 27, 2012 5:02 PM ET
Apple (AAPL) gave Wall Street what it had been asking for
The Street's reaction has been largely positive, and the stock closed Monday at a new all-time high: $601.10, up $15.53 (2.65%) for the day.
Jefferies' Peter Misek: Dividend and Buyback Bigger Than Expected. Apple announced a $10.60 annual dividend (1.8%) commencing in CQ3 and $10B buyback over three years (to offset dilution). We had expected a dividend announcement in H2 in the MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Mar 19, 2012 10:19 AM ET
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