IBM dumps $10 billion into rainy-day buyback fund

Big Blue extends share repurchasing strategy, announces yet another dividend

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It must be nice to have this kind of spare change laying around.

IBM announced on Tuesday that its board of directors has authorized $10 billion in additional funds for the company's stock repurchase program. The new infusion of cash boosts IBM's buyback coffers to $12.3 billion. The company said it expects to seek approval for more share repurchase funds at next April's board meeting.

Big Blue said "it will repurchase shares on the open market or in private transactions from time to time, depending on market conditions." The company bought back $3.7 billion worth of shares in Q3.

IBM also declared a quarterly cash dividend of 65 cents per common share, payable on Dec. 10 to stockholders of record as of Nov. 10 of this year. The new dividend preserves IBM's streak of paying consecutive quarterly dividends every year since 1916, the company said.

Sam Palmisano, IBM's chairman, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement that the company has returned "$91 billion since 2003 to our shareholders through share repurchases and dividends."

Public companies repurchase, or buy back, outstanding shares either to invest in themselves or to head off the potential of shareholders trying to gain control of the company. Obviously IBM falls into the former category.

IBM shares (NYSE: IBM) were up 95 cents, or 0.7 percent, to 140.79 in Tuesday's early afternoon trading. The stock hit an all-time high of 143.03 on Oct. 18. IBM's market capitalization currently is around $177.5 billion, and it has 1,261,278,000 shares outstanding.

Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.

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