updated 04:34 pm EST, Thu January 23, 2014
New letter calls on shareholders to support expanded share buyback
Investor Carl Icahn has added another $500 million to his stake in Apple shares, bringing the total to $3.6 billion, according to a Twitter post. The announcement follows just a day after Icahn revealed an earlier $500 million surge which put him over the $3 billion mark. "If [the Apple] board doesn't see AAPL's 'no brainer value we sure do," Icahn's latest statement adds.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has also published an open letter to shareholders promised by Icahn, in which he asks them to support his call for an expanded share buyback program, to be voted on at the Apple shareholders' meeting on February 28th. "The S&P 500's price to earnings multiple is 71% higher than Apple's, and if Apple were simply valued at the same multiple, its share price would be $840, which is 52% higher than its current price," he says. "This is a dramatic valuation disconnect that simply makes no sense to us, and it seems that the company agrees with us on this point."
Apple, however, has asked shareholders to vote no. Icahn's plan would cost the company an extra $50 billion on top of the $60 billion it's in the process of spending through the end of 2015. Under Icahn's scheme, the extra would have to be paid out during the 2014 fiscal year.
Apple's wants shareholders to vote against Icahn on the basis that it's "thoughtfully considering options for returning additional cash to shareholders." The company has also previously maintained the view that it wants large cash reserves for acquisitions and a safety net. Even if Icahn wins the vote, it will only be advisory, something Apple executives can ignore at their discretion.