Apple Talks Cash, Share Price, at Investor Meeting
CEO Tim Cook, who received a 99.1% approval rating from shareholders, said he and the board are not happy with Apple's share price compared to a few months ago, but reiterated that the iPhone maker is focused on the long term. Apple's share price has tumbled from a high of $705 in September to around $440, a fall of nearly 30%.
He continued to suggest that the lawsuit by Greenlight Capital's David Einhorn is a "silly sideshow", but did note that Apple's actively thinking about returning cash to shareholders. Apple's $137 billion cash hoard has attracted a lot of attention and Cook said Apple is in "very, very active" discussions on what to do with it.
While he didn't touch on any new products (as is the norm), Cook did say that Apple has products coming this year, and hinted that the tech giant may be looking at new categories. Recent rumors have suggested that Apple may announce a smart watch or a television set.
The Apple chief did mention the success of the iPhone and the iPad. Cook said that over 50% of iPad purchasers in countries like China and Brazil were first-time Apple buyers, and he was confident that the "halo-effect" surrounding the iPad would make them repeat Apple customers.
As part of this halo effect, Cook noted that Apple continues to see exceptional growth in China, where Apple generated $24 billion of revenue last year. "This is larger than any technology company in the United States that we're aware of," Cook was quoted as saying by CNBC. He also mentioned that Apple grew $48 billion more than its competitors combined, including Google (GOOG) , Microsoft (MSFT) , Dell (DELL) , HP (HPQ) , BlackBerry (BBRY) and Nokia (NOK) .
There's been a lot of attention paid to Apple's market share in both tablets and phones, and Cook addressed this topic during the meeting. He noted that Google's Android is on a lot of phones, but said that Apple has the lead in tablets, and is very aware of the competition. The CEO added that Apple could "press a button or two" to flood the market with devices, but said that this wouldn't be good for the company. He defined success as not making the most, but rather making the best.
Cook said that Apple's new campus, which is slated to be ready by 2016, will be one enormous building, at 2.8 million square feet. He said he hopes to break ground on the construction later this year.
He did touch on Apple's supply chain, particularly with regard to working conditions. Cook noted that Apple was focused on this area before it became a massive news story, adding that when the company found something wrong, it would report it. He mentioned that over 200,000 people are taking advantage of the college courses Apple has posted, and said that Apple has trained over 1 million workers on rights.