Share buybacks are a spectacular way of generating shareholder value. A supreme exponent of this strategy is a company which since 2012 has spent a staggering $573bn on share buybacks. Add in dividends as well and over the last decade this company has returned $740bn to shareholders. We get so inured to large numbers that we can lose sight of what this means so let's spell it out - $740,000,000,000; that is an unbelievable amount of money and helps explain why this company is so valuable.
Sales for 2022 were a little shy of a staggering $400bn, spread around the world.
One of the jewels in the crown of this business is its services operation. The company has a huge disport of devices and these make ready made customers for its services operations which are both growing rapidly and incredibly profitable. Total services sales in 2022 were $78bn, up from $68bn the previous year and the cost of sales for this services business was $22bn, leaving a stunning $56bn of operating profit. Talk about nice work if you can get it.
I had a look back in time. In 2016 services sales were $24.3bn so in six years they have climbed 3.2 times. If this was an independent business it would be highly valued except that it could not exist as an independent business because it is only able to grow so fast because of the massive hardware sales of the business and its overwhelming presence in the world.
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