Wall Street Watch Wednesday: Microsoft Sweetens the Pot for Investors

microsoft surface
microsoft surface

Microsoft (MSFT) wants to reward its patient shareholders.

The world's largest software company announced Tuesday after the market close that it would be increasing its quarterly dividend by 15%. Shareholders will now be receiving $0.23 a share every three months.

The move pushes Microsoft's yield up to nearly 3%, rivaling the payouts that fixed income investors are generating. The 10-year government bond, for example, is currently yielding only 1.8%.

The market would still gladly trade away all of Microsoft's meaty dividend checks for some hearty capital appreciation. Despite reasonable gains over the past year, Microsoft is still one of the few blue chip tech stocks trading well below its all-time highs from the dot-com bubble.

Microsoft began paying dividends in 2003. It probably figured that its stock would be higher by now.

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Next month will be a big one for the company as updates to its Windows operating system and Windows Phone mobile operating system hit the market in late October. Unfortunately for Microsoft, there isn't a lot of interest in Windows-powered smartphones. Everybody wants iPhones or Androids. PC sales worldwide have been flat, largely because many potential computer buyers are relying on tablets and smartphones to fulfill their rudimentary computing needs.

The fatter dividend checks will help ease the sting for investors. Microsoft thankfully has enough money in the bank and is generating healthy enough cash flows to keep the payments coming for a long time. Now if only the tech giant could find a way to move its stock higher.

Other Things Worth Watching

• There's going to be a new CFO at Goldman Sachs (GS) for the first time since 1999, which coincidentally was when Microsoft peaked during the Y2K upgrade frenzy. David Viniar -- who has been with the investment banking giant for 32 years and has served as its CFO for 13 years -- will step down at the end of January. He won't be going away entirely. He will be added to the company's board of directors next year.

• General Electric (GE) announced on Tuesday afternoon that it signed a deal with Brazil's state-run oil giant to provide nearly $1.1 billion in offshore drilling equipment. Most of the parts will be manufactured in Brazil.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not own shares in any of the stocks in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Goldman Sachs Group and Microsoft and creating a synthetic covered call position in Microsoft.

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