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Apple shares reach new peak as company gears up to pay investors $2.8 billion in dividends

Apple shares reached a new all time high of $108 for the end of October, less than two weeks prior prior to the company's quarterly dividend distribution date.

On November 13, Apple will pay shareholders of record a quarterly dividend of $0.47 per share, but investors will need to have settled ownership of the company's stock by the market's close on November 10 in order to qualify.

Apple has been paying its shareholders a dividend about a month and a half after the end of each fiscal quarter ever since it declared its modern dividend plan in the summer of 2012.

The November dividend will be the second to occur since the company issued a 7-for-1 stock split. That split also converted the dividend from $3.29 per share to 47 cents per share.

Following its stock split, Apple repurchased a surprising $17 billion of its own stock in the September quarter. The company now has 5.866 billion shares outstanding.

Apple shares outstanding Q4 2014

Since the start of 2014, Apple shares are up 34.75 percent, compared to Microsoft's 25.5 percent gain or Google's 0.13 percent decline in nonvoting GOOG C class shares and 1.24 percent gain in standard GOOGL A class shares. Google split its shares into the two classes and awarded investors one of each, effectively stripping investors of half their voting rights through the "dividend" dilution.

AAPL Dividends & Buybacks

Dividends are a minority portion of Apple's shareholder capital return program, the majority of which has been earmarked for buying back outstanding shares.

Buybacks increase the scarcity, and therefore value, of Apple's stock by taking shares off the market and retiring them. Removing shares from circulation also enhances the company's closely-watched earnings per share metrics.

Over the past year, Apple has paid out $11 billion in dividends to its shareholders, distributing about $2.8 billion every quarter. "The Company also plans to increase its dividend on an annual basis, subject to declaration by the Board of Directors," Apple states in its 10-K filing.

Apple has spent $68 billion on stock buybacks since initiating its capital return program, including an opportunistic $14 billion share grab initiated after the stock plunged more than 8 percent in January following the company's holiday Q1 release which detailed its highest ever quarterly revenues and operating profits— results that the tech media depicted as "disappointing."

Apple's most recent quarter of buybacks incorporated a record $8 billion in open market purchases and a fourth Accelerated Share Repurchase arrangement involving and additional $9 billion. Apple paid average share prices each month ranging from $96.77 to $100.64.