Icahn Wants Bigger Share Buyback From Apple

During a Wall Street Week interview in which Carl Icahn called Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) the Secretariat of corporations and the best company of the past 50 years, the activist investor also mentioned that he always likes bigger buybacks. The inference is that he wants Apple to distribute more cash to its shareholders. Apple already has done a great deal of that. So, based on Icahn’s present holdings of Apple shares, when is enough enough?

Apple announced at the same time that it released its earnings that it would return another $200 billion to shareholders between that date and the year after:

Apple today announced that its Board of Directors has authorized an increase of more than 50 percent to the Company’s program to return capital to shareholders. Under the expanded program, Apple plans to utilize a cumulative total of $200 billion of cash by the end of March 2017.

As part of the revised program, the Board has increased its share repurchase authorization to $140 billion from the $90 billion level announced last year. In addition, the Company expects to continue to net-share-settle vesting restricted stock units.

The Board has also approved an increase of 11 percent to the Company’s quarterly dividend, and has declared a dividend of $.52 per share, payable on May 14, 2015 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on May 11, 2015.

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Icahn still believes that, given Apple’s cash and investments and positive cash flow, the company could do more. There are no signs Apple will do so.

Icahn has further argued that Apple does not need the cash for acquisitions. Despite rumors Apple might buy an electric car company or a media corporation, Apple has not shown that it has a bias toward that kind of approach to accelerating growth. It already has the products it needs to drive double-digit growth in earnings and revenue.

Icahn will never stop hinting that Apple has not does enough for him. However, the appreciation in Apple’s share price has already made him hundreds millions of dollars. And he says he is buying more shares. While he agitates for a larger return, the Apple board has made it clear they are done.

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