updated 06:50 pm EDT, Sun March 18, 2012
Apple hints it may spend cash hoard in near future
Apple in a rare mid-Sunday release sent word that it would discuss what it planned to do with its $97.6 billion cash reserve. CEO Tim Cook, along with CFO Peter Oppenheimer, would discuss the "outcome of the Company’s discussions" in a call at 9AM Eastern on Monday, March 19. Apple would offer the discussion both as a phone call and as a live stream with replays available for two weeks afterwards.
The company has been actively discussing what to do with its stockpile in recent months. Its lack of spending has drawn mounting criticism, especially as it has become an unusual exception even among other companies that prefer to save money rather than spend it. Investment analysts have regularly complained that Apple should offer a dividend payout to shareholders despite the stock being the largest in the world as well as one of the fastest growing.
The firm has been historically averse to spending its money for all but moderate- to small-sized acquisitions. Some of this has been attributed to the late Steve Jobs; while he seldom discussed it directly, many believe that he saw what had happened to Apple in his absence as a sign that his company needed a cash buffer in the event of a sudden drop in market share, an economic crisis, or another factor that might kill another company. Some have speculated that Cook as his replacement wasn't beholden to this view.
No guarantees exist that Apple will pay a dividend or otherwise roll the money back towards shareholders. The company has generated record returns solely through record quarterly results. Many of those companies that take pride in quarterly or yearly dividends, such as Microsoft, perform comparatively poorly both in the stock market and in real competition.