Investor Icahn sets sights on Apple, talks to CEO Cook
By Michael Liedtke, APSAN FRANCISCO -- Activist investor Carl Icahn thinks Apple should be doing more to revive its stock price, and wants to help CEO Tim Cook with the resuscitation.
August 15, 2013, 11:44 am TWN
Icahn, an outspoken billionaire renowned for pouncing on out-of-favor stocks, signaled he has Apple Inc. in his sights in two short messages posted Tuesday on his Twitter account. Until now, he had been deploying Twitter as a weapon in his attack on Dell Inc.'s proposed sale to a group led by its CEO, Michael Dell.
The Twitter posts announced that Icahn had acquired a large but unspecified stake in Apple and that he had just had a “nice conversation” with Cook about his belief that the maker of the iPhone and iPad should be using even more of its US$147 billion in cash to buy back its own stock as soon as possible.
Apple spokesman Steve Dowling described Icahn's discussion with Cook as positive, but declined to elaborate. “We appreciate the interest and investment of all our shareholders,” Dowling said.
Icahn, 77, probably has already won some fans among Apple shareholders. After he tweeted, Apple's market value rose by about US$13 billion.
Apple already has been trying to lift its stock price under a program it adopted earlier this year under pressure from another activist shareholder, hedge fund manager David Einhorn.
In April, Apple pledged to spend US$60 billion buying back its stock through the end of 2015 as a way to return some of its cash to shareholders. About US$18 billion of that commitment already had been spent through June 29, according to the company's regulatory filings. Apple also plans to dole out more than US$10 billion in shareholder dividends each year.
Icahn thinks Apple should be pouring even more money into its stock because he believes the shares are worth more than most investors currently believe, according to his tweet. Despite a recent upturn that has re-established Apple as the world's most valuable company, its stock remains 30 percent below its peak of US$705.07 reached nearly 11 months ago.
As often occurs after Icahn reveals an interest in a company, investors began snapping up Apple's shares on the hope that the Cupertino, California, company might be forced to take steps to appease Icahn or risk the billionaire threatening an attempt to overthrow Apple's board.