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The Rich Get So Much Richer

Next to Martha Stewart my favorite person and company in the world are Bill Gates and Microsoft. Yesterday the company announced a plan to over the next four years return up to $75 billion to its stockholders. The initial component of the payout will take the form of a $3 per share dividend. Congratulations to anyone who owns Microsoft stock.

The move makes sense for the company. It has been sitting on a "Mount Everest" of cash pending the outcome of all its legal problems. Now that for the most part they're settled, the company is in a position to reward its stockholders. Additionally, given the company has found it increasingly difficult to enhance its stock value through sheer growth, it must entice investors through others means such as increasing its dividend.

Want to know who the two biggest beneficiaries of the move are? None other than company founder Bill Gates and current CEO Steve "my IQ rivals that of George Bush" Ballmer. Gates with his 1.2 billion shares is set to receive $3.6 billion for the one-time payout and about $384 million from the proposed follow-on dividend.

In comparison, Ballmer will receive a stipend. He'll only get $1.23 billion from the $3 dividend and approximately $131 million from the annual dividend. Can you live on that? I understand housing costs in the Redmond area have skyrocketed.
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