Earnings Outlook: The annual Apple cash bonanza is here — will $300 billion be enough?

Apple Inc.’s earnings reports are always fodder for chatter about the iPhone maker’s cash reserves, but Tuesday should bring an update on one the most common uses of the company’s cash: Shipping it back to investors.

Apple AAPL, +2.04% has increased its investor return program around fiscal second-quarter earnings every year since 2012, when it originally announced its first dividends and stock buybacks since Steve Jobs’s triumphant return. The program’s goal has increased from $45 billion to $100 billion to $130 billion to $200 billion to $250 billion, with Chief Executive Tim Cook repeatedly referencing Apple’s record stock buybacks amid occasional calls for even larger increases.

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