Investors have not been very kind to Apple over the last few months. But on Tuesday morning CEO Tim Cook sat for questioning as part of Goldman Sachs’ annual Technology Conference, where he answered a litany of questions about the current and future health of the company. He didn’t say much that we didn’t hear during last month’s earnings call, but he did use the time to defend his company from accusations that Apple is irrationally hoarding too much cash: $137 billion at last count.
Cook issued a somewhat snippy response to a shareholder lawsuit last week, in which hedge fund manager David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital said Apple had a “Depression-era mentality” about money and behaved like someone who “can never have enough cash.” Besides calling the lawsuit “a waste of shareholder money, a distraction, and not a seminal issue for Apple” he disagreed with the characterization of how Apple thinks about cash.
“My definition of ‘Depression-era mentality’ wouldn’t include a company investing a pair of tens [$10 billion in capital expenditures] over two years,” said Cook. ”We announced we’re returning $45 billion to shareholders a year ago. We’ve completed $10 billion so far. I don’t know how a company with a Depression-era mindset would have done all those things.”
Cook then explained Apple’s long-held convictions on why having ample cash on hand is important:
“Now, we do have some cash,” Cook deadpanned, eliciting a laugh from the audience. So, in addition to the plans listed above, Cook reaffirmed that Apple’s management and board of directors are in “very active discussions” about how to return additional cash to shareholders.
While Cook made no official announcements, his subtle hints may cheer some shareholders hoping to get its hands on some of that money Apple has squirreled away: it’s the same phrasing Cook used at the same conference venue a year earlier right before the company made the historic decision to issue a dividend. However, Apple stock dipped after Cook’s comments. As of the writing of this post, it was down nearly two percent to $471.20.
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