Apple to raise more debt for cash returns; Cook open to big acquisitions

|About: Apple Inc. (AAPL)|By:, SA News Editor

Apple (AAPL) aims to deliver annual dividend hikes going forward, new CFO Luca Maestri states on the CC. With the company's domestic cash balance now at $18B, Apple will once more tap debt markets to help pay for its dividend and freshly-expanded buyback program. (CC live blogs: I, II)

Tim Cook partly attributes FQ2's soft iPad sales to inventory changes; slowing tablet market growth might also be playing a role. iPad ASP was at $465, up from $440 in FQ1 and and $439 in FQ4 (suggests a mix shift towards the iPad Air).

Healthy emerging markets demand contributed to iPhone strength - BRIC sales hit a record, thanks in part to China Mobile. iPhone ASP came in at $596 vs. $637 in FQ1 and $577 in FQ4; Maestri suggests a mix shift towards the 4S contributed to the Q/Q drop.

Cook states Apple has bought 24 companies in the last 18 months - some are known to the public, but not all - and is "on the prowl" for deals. "We look for companies that have great people and great technology and that fit culturally and we don’t have a rule that says we can’t spend a lot or whatever."

Also: 1) Angela Ahrendts will begin working as Apple's retail chief next week. 2) 20M Apple TVs have now been cumulatively sold. 3) Roughly half of all iPhone buyers and 2/3 of iPad buyers were new buyers of the respective products. 4) There are now nearly 800M iTunes accounts. Will credit cards linked to them be leveraged for a payments service?

AAPL +7.7% AH. FQ2 results, split announcement, details.