Dell Saves the Day With a Timely Reminder

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Don't you love it when company leaders follow through on their commitments?

Dell (NAS: DELL) approved its first-ever dividend policy back in June, so the payout isn't exactly breaking news. Management even told us that it would amount to $0.08 per quarter, or $0.32 annually, and that payouts would start in the third quarter.

But that didn't stop today's announcement of the actual dividend date from boosting Dell shares. That $0.08 payout per share is now slated for disbursement on Oct. 22, handed out to shareholders of record as of Oct. 1. And there was much rejoicing.

Indeed, Dell shares rose 1.2% in Friday morning's market action, even as a terrible market report from Intel (NAS: INTC) weighed on other computing stocks. Intel shares ended the day down 3.6%. Hewlett-Packard (NYS: HPQ) lost 1% of its value, and Microsoft (NAS: MSFT) plunged 1.6%. But Dell soldiers on in positive territory.

You can always back out of a nebulous dividend policy without firm delivery dates, but the idea is written in stone now. Plus, it never hurts to remind investors of your company's commitment to shareholder value, especially on a negative day like today. And that's exactly what Dell did here.

"The payment of a quarterly cash dividend is intended to help contribute to long-term shareholder value," said CFO Brian Gladden. The company has committed to returning 20% of its free cash flows directly to shareholders, and this policy will help the existing buybacks out in a big way.

At today's prices, Dell's dividend works out to a 3% annual yield. That's right in line with Microsoft (2.6%), Intel (3.7%), and HP (3.1%). The promise to return 20% of free cash flows to shareholders isn't particularly daring -- only nine of the 30 stocks in the Dow return less than that today.

Then again, Dell ain't the Dow-grade blue chip it was 10 years ago. The company has a lot to prove before becoming a true dividend champion. Dell is facing the same market headwinds as the rest of the computing industry, and there are no guarantees that the dividend will grow like clockwork over the years.

So you can take a chance on Dell as an income generator for your golden years -- or you can invest in rock-solid performers with decades of uninterrupted dividend growth. This free report will help you find the latter kind of proven dividend aristocrats.

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Fool contributorAnders Bylundholds no position in any of the companies mentioned. Check outAnders' holdings and bio, or follow him onTwitterandGoogle+. The Motley Fool owns shares of Intel, Apple, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple, Microsoft, and Intel, creating a synthetic covered call position in Microsoft, and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. We Fools don't all hold the same opinion, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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