Apple's Shareholder Meeting: 3 Things to Expect (Update 1)
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - Apple(AAPL) is holding its annual shareholder meeting today, and there are some incredibly important themes that could emerge as the largest technology company in the S&P 500 talks to investors about its future plans.
First and foremost, shareholders will be keeping a close eye on what Apple has to say about its cash hoard, which is now over $137 billion. This comes in light of a recent lawsuit by Greenlight Capital and David Einhorn, who sued Apple to stop Proposal 2 , which he said harms shareholders. Investors will also be keen to hear if the company reveals anything about its long-term product plans and its supply chain, particularly in light of recent revenue shortfalls. Apple, as we know, strives for perfection, so it will be interesting to see how it tackles these topics.
Apple has had a rough go of it recently, with shares down more than 22% in the past three months, and 16.8% year to date. The Cupertino, Calif.-based firm continues to beat its own estimates, but not Wall Street's potentially overblown expectations. Sales in the most recent quarter were up 17.6% year over year when factoring in last year's extra week, but that wasn't good enough for Wall Street.
There are concerns over Apple's product pipeline, though recent rumors of an iWatch could put those concerns to bed. CEO Tim Cook has put his own stamp on the company, and it will be interesting to see how he talks to an increasingly frustrated shareholder group.
Here are three of the most important themes that may emerge from Apple's shareholder meeting:
Apple initiated a dividend and stock buyback program in March 2012 , announcing it would return $45 billion in cash to shareholders over a period of three years. While that seems like a lot, it's still not enough for some shareholders, including Greenlight's Einhorn.
Einhorn recently held a conference call to discuss his idea of returning more cash to shareholders, in the form of a perpetual preferred stock.
Dubbed 'iPrefs', Einhorn wants Apple's management to issue preferred stock yielding 4% that would be able to unlock the value of Apple's vast balance sheet, without it actually having to use its $137.1 billion cash haul. Einhorn believes the market is not giving credit to Apple's cash hoard, of which more than $94 billion is overseas.
CEO Tim Cook and his team have hinted in that they would return more cash to shareholders, albeit in the form of a common stock dividend. In the company's recent first-quarter conference call CFO Peter Oppenheimer said that Apple does "consider increasing these programs and we'll do what we think is in the best interest of our shareholders."