Earnings Outlook: Apple earnings: How much of its massive cash pile will go into investors’ pockets?

Investors will soon receive an update on Apple Inc.’s plan for its massive pile of cash, but don’t expect anything out of the ordinary — at least, out of Apple’s ordinary.

After Apple AAPL, -0.48% announced last year that it would draw down its massive net cash position, some hoped the company would complete a transformational acquisition with that money. Instead, Apple stuck with its prior strategy of returning record amounts to shareholders.

Investors shouldn’t anticipate a change in mind set from the smartphone giant, even as it contends with slowing iPhone sales and seeks new ways to invigorate its business.

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