Because it could.
From “Apple borrows on the cheap to fund buybacks, dividends” posted Monday on Reuters:
Apple Inc on Monday capitalized on the Federal Reserve’s emergency measures in response to the coronavirus outbreak to issue its cheapest bonds in years, making it the latest blue-chip company to do so to fund stock buybacks and dividends.
Apple’s offering illustrates how companies with the best credit ratings are boosting shareholder returns by tapping cheap debt made available through the Fed’s backstopping of the credit markets…
The technology company raised $8.5 billion by selling four different bonds with maturities ranging from three years to 30 years. It sold a $2 billion three-year bond and a five-year $2.25 billion with coupons of 0.75% and 1.125% respectively, the lowest rates the company has paid on bonds with such durations since 2013, according to Refinitiv IFR data…
The Fed slashed interest rates to almost zero in March and said it would act as buyer of last resort in the investment-grade corporate bond market, in a bid to help cash-strapped companies access capital markets roiled by the economic fallout from the pandemic.
My take: Apple is the opposite of “cash-strapped.” But also, as investment manager David Schawel tweeted before the sale, “they’ve historically been amazing at timing when to issue.”
Apple’s SEC Filing.