Microsoft (MSFT) – Get Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) Report shares moved higher Wednesday after the world’s second-largest tech company unveiled plans to boost its quarterly dividend and buyback additional shares.
Microsoft said it will pay a 62 cents per share dividend from its fourth quarter earnings, an 11% increase rom its previous level, payable to shareholders of record on November 18 and announced plans for a perpetual $60 billion buyback program.
The Redmond, Washington-based tech giant also named Brad Smith, its chief legal counsel, to the position of vice chairman, making his the second-highest ranked employee behind chairman and CEO Satya Nadella.
“This reflects the unique leadership role that Brad plays for the company, our board of directors and me, with governments and other external stakeholders around the world,” Nadella said.
Microsoft shares were marked 1.4% higher in pre-market trading to indicate an opening bell price of $303.96 each, a move that would extend the stock’s year-to-date gain to around 36.6% and put it within touching distance of the all-time-high of $305.84 it reached on August 20.
Microsoft, which topped Street forecasts in its record fourth quarter earnings report in July, has gained nearly 30% since hitting a six-month trough in early April, with investors praising the group’s market-leading cloud computing division amid the shift to at-home and hybrid work models by companies around the world and the hyper growth of its new Azure business.
Azure, in fact, is forecast to lead Microsoft’s near-term gains following a 51% surge in fourth quarter revenues that paced a 21% increase in the group’s overall $46.2 billion top line.