Apple has been treading lightly with Wall Street in recent months. The company’s stock has continued to nosedive despite reporting record earnings for the last quarter. Many investors have been urging Apple to do something with its $137 billion cash hoard. Shareholders want a return on their investments.
Greenlight Capital, a prominent and influential Apple investor, has called Apple out for its proposal to eliminate preferred stock. Apple started paying a quarterly dividend of $2.65 per share last year, but investors want something more substantial. Greenlight Capital’s David Einhorn believes that “preferred shares would be a way to reward investors without putting the company at risk.”
Apple has officially responded with a press release:
By early last year, Apple’s cash balance had built to a point beyond what we needed to run our business and maintain flexibility to take advantage of strategic opportunities, so we announced a plan to return $45 billion to shareholders over three years. As of next week we will have executed $10 billion of that plan.
We find ourselves in the fortunate position of continuing to generate large amounts of cash, including $23 billion in cash flow from operations in the last quarter alone.
Apple’s management team and Board of Directors have been in active discussions about returning additional cash to shareholders. As part of our review, we will thoroughly evaluate Greenlight Capital’s current proposal to issue some form of preferred stock. We welcome Greenlight’s views and the views of all of our shareholders.
As a part of our efforts to further enhance corporate governance and serve our shareholders’ best interests, Proposal #2 in our proxy includes some recommended changes to our articles of incorporation. These changes were recommended independently of Greenlight’s proposal and would not preclude Apple from adopting their concept. Contrary to Greenlight’s statements, adoption of Proposal #2 would not prevent the issuance of preferred stock. Currently, Apple’s articles of incorporation provide for the issuance of “blank check” preferred stock by the Board of Directors without shareholder approval. If Proposal #2 is adopted, our shareholders would have the right to approve the issuance of preferred stock. As such, Proposal #2 has the support of many of our shareholders.
We remain committed to having an ongoing dialogue with our shareholders to get perspectives around return of capital and driving shareholder value.