Tech gaint Apple said it wants to become ‘cash neutral’ — which could be a huge boost for earnings
Apple Inc Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook addressed succession at the company’s annual shareholder meeting on Feb 13, saying that eventually “passing the baton” properly is one of his most important roles.Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., waves after speaking during an event at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017.
Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., waves after speaking during an event at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017.
Apple’s earnings could pop as much as 30 percent higher than current estimates — if the company buys back 10 percent of its shares each year over the next several years.
That’s one of several likely scenarios for America’s most valuable public company as it aims to fulfill its previously mentioned plan of becoming “cash neutral,” according to UBS. Apple is likely to spend almost all of its cash on share buybacks, and potentially increased dividend yields, by 2023, UBS analyst Steven Milunovich wrote in a Wednesday research note.
Apple’s shareholder meeting this week rekindled speculation about how the tech giant will spend its $285.1 billion cash hoard, which can now be deployed in the U.S. at a cheaper tax rate.
When prodded on the topic, executives told investors that an update would be coming in April, and that the board was committed to an annual dividend. But they didn’t go into detail, other than noting that CEO Tim Cook is “not really a fan” of special one-time payouts.
The company has a deep bench of experienced managers who could fill Cook’s shoes when the time comes. Apple’s leadership team includes 10 executives other than Cook and features veterans like operations chief Jeff Williams, services head Eddy Cue, product marketing boss Phil Schiller, and hardware leader Dan Riccio. There are also relative newcomers, like Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri and retail head Angela Ahrendts, who brought leadership experience from other companies.
At the meeting in Cupertino, California, Cook said every Apple board meeting in recent years has had succession planning on the agenda for all key executive roles, but he didn’t specify any potential successors. Cook, 57, has been CEO since succeeding Steve Jobs in 2011. He’s led an explosion in revenue and profit, while expanding services like music streaming and overseeing the launch of the Apple Watch, iPhone X and HomePod.
There’s no reason to believe Cook is planning to step down any time soon. And given how far off his departure may be, it’s possible a successor isn’t even on the executive team yet. But Cook’s comments marked a new level of specificity on the topic. Apple declined to comment beyond the CEO’s remarks.