The billionaire, who has repeatedly urged Apple to return more cash
to shareholders, told CNBC later in an interview he intends to buy
more stock at some point in "one of the greatest no-brainers of all
Icahn, known for decades of strong-arm tactics including proxy
fights against major corporations, said on Twitter that the company
was doing shareholders a "great disservice" by failing to boost its
share buyback program.
Shares of the world's largest technology company were up 0.5 percent
at $552.09 in afternoon trading, after earlier climbing as much as
Icahn has repeatedly made it clear that he does not oppose Apple's
management. But neither is he going to walk away from his
investment, he told Reuters in November.
On Wednesday, he promised an in-depth letter in a day or two, that
will lay out his arguments to investors. And he said he will
continue to try to drum up support from fellow shareholders for his
"What bothers me a hell of a lot..., is cash of a $150 billion just
sitting there doing nothing. And not to use it to do a huge buyback,
is sort of disgraceful," Icahn said on CNBC.
"As far as I'm concerned, I'm actually better off with them doing
nothing," he said. "I intend to buy (more) stock."
Icahn now holds likely less than 1 percent of the company, but the
billionaire has chalked up solid investment gains in the past
Apple's stock has surged 17 percent since Icahn first disclosed a
significant stake in the company on August 13. An additional $500
million investment would translate into roughly 900,000 shares at
It was unclear when or how much stock the activist investor, who in
August began trying to get Apple CEO Tim Cook to agree to a $150
billion buyback, most recently added to his portfolio. In a letter
to Cook made public on October 24, Icahn said he had increased his
stake to 4.7 million shares.
In December, Icahn filed a shareholder proposal with Apple for a
much smaller additional stock buyback plan of $50 billion, a major
step back from previous demands. Icahn said on Wednesday that
reduction came after discussions with unidentified major
shareholders of the company, without elaborating.
"We feel (Apple's) board is doing great disservice to shareholders
by not having markedly increased its buyback. In-depth letter to
follow soon," Icahn said on Twitter earlier.
[to top of second column]
"Since tweeting about our large position in $AAPL on Aug 13, when
the stock was 468 per share, we've kept buying shares of this 'no brainer,'" Icahn added on his public profile.
Apple declined to comment on Wednesday but referred investors to its
December proxy statement.
Since taking over from the late Steve Jobs, Cook has been generally
perceived as steering Apple in a more investor-friendly direction.
But Icahn argues that Apple can afford to share much of its cash
pile of more than $146 billion, which in turn would have the effect
of taking the stock sharply higher.
Apple is in the midst of returning $100 billion to shareholders,
including a total share repurchase program of $60 billion.
The company advised shareholders in its proxy statement last month
to vote down Icahn's proposal, arguing it had already returned $43
billion in dividends and repurchases under its capital return
Apple also warned at the time that it needed ready access to cash in
a fast-evolving and competitive mobile devices industry.
The company is coming under heavy pressure from Samsung Electronics
and Amazon.com Inc in the smartphone and tablet arena.
"We're going to continue to buy it," Icahn said. "If we lose, we
lose, from a financial point of view it might be better for a lot of
shareholders if they don't do this."
(Reporting by Edwin Chan; editing by
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