Investors were certainly excited to hear about Meta Platforms‘ (META -0.40%) first-ever quarterly dividend. It’s been an epic run since the IPO in 2012, returning investors well over 1,000% since then.
But the company behind Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp isn’t a high-growth social media business anymore. As it matures, it’s only natural the way the company rewards shareholders would evolve. But just how much will that dividend pay out? Here’s what you need to know.
Meta’s dividend payments will be worth billions
Meta said its quarterly dividend will be $0.50 per share, which will be paid out for the first time at the end of March 2024. On an annual basis, that’s $2 for every share that an investor owns.
Based on the share price (as of this writing) of about $470, that equates to an annualized dividend yield of just 0.4% ($2 dividend divided by the $455 stock price). It’s not exactly a high-yield investment, but no doubt Meta will dole out dividend increases in the years to come.
However, Meta will pay this dividend to shareholders of both its class A and class B shares. Based on its class A share count of 2.2 billion and Class B share count of 349 million (of which founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg owns the majority, giving him control of voting rights at Meta) as of Jan. 2024, that means Meta’s total dividend payout to shareholders the first year will be nearly $5.1 billion.
Shareholders cash in, and the stock may not be finished yet
Of course, that dividend payout will be dependent on the total share count throughout 2024. If there are more or less total shares outstanding, that will adjust the final bill for Meta.
My bet is on the share count (specifically the class A shares) being lower than at the start of the year. Why?
Meta has been repurchasing massive amounts of class A stock for the last few years as part of its shareholder return policy. Specifically, in 2022, it repurchased $28 billion of stock, and last year, it was about $20 billion in buybacks. As is typical for a company that sees long-term value in its own business, Meta chose this route to return excess cash to shareholders. This will likely continue as the company had over $30 billion remaining on its prior repurchase authorization, and management added a $50 billion authorization increase on the day of the Q4 2023 earnings report.
Thus, the dividend payment will be an additional way Meta can reward its investors.
Even after rallying another 30% year to date and achieving new all-time highs, Meta may still have more fuel left in the tank. Wall Street analysts expect earnings per share and free cash flow to rise another 15% and 18%, respectively, in 2024 — and to continue at a similar rate of increase for the next couple of years afterward.
Assuming this pans out, Meta stock could still be a pretty decent long-term value at 31 times trailing-12-month earnings per share. More gradual growth, paired with lots more share buybacks and a new dividend, could add up to a great compound growth investment.
Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Nicholas Rossolillo and his clients have positions in Meta Platforms. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Meta Platforms. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.