Microsoft Corp chief financial officer John Connors said the world's biggest software maker won't bow to pressure from investors to boost its US$0.08 dividend, saying the company may need the money if it loses the remaining antitrust lawsuits. \n"We hear the angst of shareholders, and we are mindful of it," Connors said in an interview late yesterday. "We are hopeful we'll get a little patience from investors." \nMicrosoft has US$49 billion in cash, and share owners say Connors and chief executive Steve Ballmer haven't used the stockpile to boost their returns. The Redmond, Washington-based company's shares have fallen in two of the past three years, as sales growth slowed to 13 percent in the year ended June 30 from an average of 38 percent annually in the 1990s. \nThe company won't raise the payout until it can put a dollar value on the impact of cases filed by Sun Microsystems Inc and the EU, Connors said. An increase wouldn't be "prudent" until those cases are resolved, he said. \nMicrosoft generated more than US$10 billion in cash last fiscal year. Tripling the dividend would cost Microsoft less than the amount of cash the company raised in the last quarter alone. \nThe EU could impose a fine of as much as 10 percent of Microsoft's revenue, or US$3.2 billion. Sun is seeking more than US$1 billion in its antitrust lawsuit in US District Court in Maryland. \nThat argument "doesn't make sense," said Mark Herskovitz, who manages the Dreyfus Premier Technology Growth Fund and has been selling some of its Microsoft shares. Dreyfus controls more than US$180 billion. \n"The company has plenty of cash, and if they were really worried about the potential of having to pay a fine or something, it would be better to distribute to shareholders so other people can't get it," he said. \nMicrosoft reported a 26 percent increase in its fourth-quarter profit and raised its outlook for the coming year Thursday. The company's fourth-quarter net income rose to US$1.92 billion, or US$0.18 a share, from US$1.53 billion, or a US$0.14, a year earlier, the company said. Sales climbed 11 percent to US$8.07 billion. \nThe software maker paid out US$857 million on the annual dividend last fiscal year. That was 8.6 percent of its US$9.99 billion in net income. The yield, at 0.29 percent, is the lowest in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. \nChairman Bill Gates received more than US$90 million last year in dividends, and Ballmer got about US$38 million.
‘WEAK POSITIVE’: The man arrived in Taiwan in May and was quarantined for two weeks, Chen Shih-chung said, adding that he might be infected a long time ago The government is considering tightening mask-wearing rules again in light of a potential domestic COVID-19 infection, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) confirmed seven new COVID-19 cases, six of which are imported. The other case involves a Belgian engineer who entered Taiwan on May 3 and remained in quarantine until May 17, said Chen, who heads the CECC. Although the source of infection has yet to be identified, the case could end the nation’s record of not having any domestic cases in the previous 110 days. The Belgian, in his 20s, is a technician
BRIBERY CASE: President Tsai Ing-wen accepted Su Jia-chyuan’s resignation as he said that he deeply regretted causing trouble for the president due to the investigation Presidential Office Secretary-General Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) yesterday resigned after his nephew, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清), was implicated in a bribery case related to a dispute over the ownership of Pacific Sogo Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨). “I resigned from the post so that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) would not be bothered by it anymore, and the prosecutors can investigate the case in a fair and just manner. I thank President Tsai once again for supporting me. May the country continue to prosper under her leadership,” Su Jia-chyuan said in a statement. The Presidential Office said that Tsai has accepted
ALEX AZAR: The first visit by a head of the Department of Health and Human Services would strictly observe the CECC’s special regulations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar is to lead a delegation to Taiwan — the highest-level visit by a US Cabinet official since the two sides cut formal relations in 1979. The plan was announced yesterday morning by the US Department of Health and Human Services and confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Beijing has expressed its concerns to Washington, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said later yesterday. Taiwan and the US only issued statements saying that the visit would happen “in the coming days.” MOFA said that due to security concerns, it would
The military last week sent “no small number” of Marine Corps officers to the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Island, 東沙群島) following reports of a Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) drill targeting the islands scheduled for this month. In an interview with Hong Kong’s Bauhinia Magazine published on Saturday last week, PLA National Defense University professor Li Daguang (李大光) confirmed that the Chinese army was planning to stage a simulated invasion of the Pratas Islands in the South China Sea this month. The islands comprise three atolls, with Pratas Island, at 1.74km2, being the largest. They lie southwest of Taiwan proper in the South