Apple to make announcement on huge cash holdings

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Apple scheduled an announcement Monday on plans for its huge cash balance, estimated to be at least $97 billion from its hugely successful gadgets like the iPad and iPhone.

An Apple statement said chief executive Tim Cook and chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer would hold a conference call at 1300 GMT "to announce the outcome of the company's discussions concerning its cash balance."

The statement said there would be no other update on the current quarter or other topics.

Apple, with total available cash and securities at record highs -- some reports said it has more cash on hand than the US government -- has been under pressure to pay dividends to shareholders with some of those funds. The company does not currently pay dividends on its common stock.

But the announcement sparked speculation about other options for Apple, ranging from new research to big acquisitions.

"What Apple will do with its cash has long been a topic for discussion, with analysts and investment specialists crying for a dividend," said Matthew Panzarino at The Next Web blog.

"But the most likely option is an acquisition or large investment in technology of some sort. Perhaps Apple will acquire Twitter, the social network that it has so tightly integrated into its iOS and OS X operating systems."

In its most recent quarter, Apple reported a record profit $13.06 billion while revenue soared to an all-time high of $46.33 billion.

Apple said it sold 37.04 million iPhones in the quarter that ended on December 31, up 128 percent from a year ago, and 15.43 million iPads, a 111 percent increase.

The California-based gadget-maker sold 5.2 million Macintosh computers in the quarter, up 26 percent, and 15.4 million iPods, a 21 percent decline from a year ago.

Its new iPad went on sale on Friday with Apple fans lining up from Sydney to San Francisco to snap up the latest model of the hot-selling tablet computer.

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