Apple Leads U.S. Companies in Stock Buybacks Value, Thanks Partly to Pressure From Carl Icahn

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Apple has led many U.S. companies in the value of stock buybacks in the last quarter of 2013. Aside from Apple, other tech giants also made big repurchases of their stocks.

Corporations in Standard & Poor's 500 had buybacks worth $126 billion of stock in the fourth quarter of 2013. The total stock buybacks made by companies in 2013 reached $447.6 billion based on figures by FactSet Research Systems. The fourth quarter buybacks was the same as the third quarter repurchase amount. But compared to the past three months of 2012, the figure rose 28.5 percent.

Billionaire Activist Investor Carl Icahn has decided to drop his $50 billion stock buyback proposal to Apple after respected proxy adviser Institutional Shareholder Services Inc (ISS) criticized his attempts of micromanagement. Apple's CEO has announced in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that the company has recently repurchased $14 billion of its stocks.

In a letter to Apple investors dated Feb. 10, Icahn wrote he was backing off from his non-binding proposal that would be forcing the iPhone maker to add another $50 billion to its stock buyback plan. He acknowledged that Apple is now closer to his requested stock repurchase target after Cook's announcement of the $14 billion buyback.

The billionaire activist told CNBC in January that he continued to benefit and made a "great deal of money" when he buys Apple shares that went down. Icahn firmly believed it is "more compelling" for Apple to allow a stock buyback. He revealed he is "encouraged" when Apple CEO Tim Cook talked about the company's plans for new products.

Apple has surpassed its $500 billion market capitalization, which is half the market cap predicted by analysts in 2012. Despite Apple's shares reaching a new peak price in 2013, the company's valuation remains the same like in spring 2012. Analysts had previously predicted that Apple's market cap will double in a year.

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