With Apple Inc’s $130-Billion Capital Return Programme, it’s a Long-Term Hold, Says Icahn

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By Athena Yenko | April 24, 2014 2:04 PM EST

Activist investor Carl Icahn, in a 'chit-chat' with CNBC on Tuesday, said that Apple is undervalued, and for that, the stock is a long-term hold. He further said that he has not sold a single share even with his persistence for an increased buyback programme.

He praised Apple as "a great company with a great ecosystem" and encouraged it to invest more into its research and development department as this will guarantee stability in the future.

He said that the system is dysfunctional, but Apple's board members "are not bad people."

"The CEO should be left alone, not micromanaged. But he should be held accountable" when things go sideways. And governance is falling woefully short," he said.

He ended the talk by saying that he will remain an activist and will seed other companies to continue with such passion to assure the market that boards are doing the right thing.

It seemed like that Icahn was very impressed with Apple Inc's announcement of its buyback programme.

 "Agree completely with $AAPL's increased buyback and extremely pleased with results. Believe we'll also be happy when we see new products," he posted in his Twitter account.

"As we said at conference yesterday, we continue to believe $AAPL remains meaningfully undervalued. Many analysts fail to understand company," he posted earlier.

Apple Inc had announced its financial results for fiscal 2014 second quarter which ended March 29, 2014.

As reported, Apple Inc has quarterly revenue of $45.6 billion and quarterly net profit of $10.2 billion, or $11.62 per diluted share compared to its revenue in the same quarter of 2013 - 43.6 billion and net profit of $9.5 billion, or $10.09 per diluted share.

The company's gross margin was 39.3 per cent side-by-side to the 37.5 per cent during the same quarter of 2013.

The company noted that international sales made the 66 per cent of this quarter's revenue.

Tim Cook said that the strong iPhone sales made this quarter more than positive, and with this, the company is looking forward to introduce a new product line-up sooner.

"We're very proud of our quarterly results, especially our strong iPhone sales and record revenue from services. We're eagerly looking forward to introducing more new products and services that only Apple could bring to market."

Peter Oppenheimer was delighted to announce its increased capital return program.

"We generated $13.5 billion in cash flow from operations and returned almost $21 billion in cash to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases during the March quarter. That brings cumulative payments under our capital return program to $66 billion."

As for its third quarter fiscal 2014, the company provided the following estimates:

Revenue between $36 billion and $38 billion

Gross margin between 37 per cent and 38 per cent

Operating expenses between $4.4 billion and $4.5 billion

Other income/(expense) of $200 million

Tax rate of 26.1 per cent

Apple Inc also announced that it will be using $130 billion of cash in its aim to expand the capital return programme, targeting the end of calendar 2015.

As part of the expansion, Apple Inc's board increased its share buyback to $90 billion, beating the 2013 estimate of $60 billion; with continued use of $1 billion yearly to net-share-settle vesting restricted stock units. 

Furthermore, the company is increasing its quarterly dividends to 8 per cent with a dividend of $3.29 per common share to be paid by May 12, 2014.

"With annual payments of $11 billion, Apple is among the largest dividend payers in the world," an official statement reads.

"We are announcing a significant increase to our capital return program. We're confident in Apple's future and see tremendous value in Apple's stock, so we're continuing to allocate the majority of our program to share repurchases.  We're also happy to be increasing our dividend for the second time in less than two years," Tim Cook said.

Much to investors' surprise, the company announced a seven-for-one stock split. Every Apple shareholder, at the close of business on June 2, 2014, will be entitled to six additional shares for every share held on the record date, and trading will begin on a split-adjusted basis on June 9, 2014.  

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