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back to article Apple CEO Cook: 'Bizarre' shareholder lawsuit a 'silly sideshow'

Apple CEO Tim Cook has a low opinion of a lawsuit filed by Greenlight Capital hedge-fund honcho David Einhorn that seeks to prevent Apple from amending its charter to allow the issuance of preferred stock without the approval of its shareholders. "I find it bizarre we find ourselves being sued for doing something that's good for …

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WTF?

What and all the nonsense lawsuits that Apple keep filing are good for shareholders?

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Megaphone

Tax Holiday?????? WTF?

"Tax Holiday"?????

US corporations are not repatriating their offshore cash because of the huge US tax bill they would otherrwise face. No tax is currently being paid and no tax will ever be paid. The money will remain offshore. Ad infinitum. To label a change in law as a 'tax holiday' is nothing but bizarre. What tax is being avoided? The tax that will never get paid anyway? How can non-payment of tax that will never be paid be called a 'tax holiday'?

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Vic
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Re: Tax Holiday?????? WTF?

> No tax is currently being paid and no tax will ever be paid.

That's only true while the money is offshore. If it's repatriated - to pay shareholder divvies, for example - it's instantly taxable.

> How can non-payment of tax that will never be paid be called a 'tax holiday'?

If the cash is brought back to the US, it becomes "non-payment of tax that will otherwise be paid". And that's a Tax Holiday.

Vic.

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To me it sounds like Cook wants to continue to manage like Steve Jobs did when he would not entertain any of the investors or allow any questions to be raised and had practically carte-blanche to do as he pleased.

Well, Tim boy, life's a bitch and you ain't getting that leeway.

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ha

"We're investing in retail around the world, in product innovation, in new product, in supply chain. We're acquiring some companies."

Yes iphone has been the same since 2007, ipad well hasn't been almost the same ipad it was 3 years ago with small changes. Its been a stock pile of cash almost no innovation just minor updates every year.

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Re: ha

And the iPod didn't change for several years - so what? It it is better and more profitable to release a new product when the technology allows, not before. Heck, it's good for products to pause in their advancement at times - it allows them to be refined and for any bugs to be ironed out. If flexible displays, super batteries, or a change in people's usage develop, Apple will aim to bring out suitable new products. And so will others, including Samsung if the recent news about them starting a Silicon Valley division for buying suitable start-ups is anything to go by.

All these comments about Apple kit not changing - and none of them actually saying what they would actually like to see in a new product.

C'mon- this is as good a venue as any to exercise your imagination.

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Re: ha

A decent UI would be nice, I think; make the OS as attractive as the hardware. Don't make me press physical buttons to do things, and don't make my apps look like they're bound in leather / wood / glass / ebony / ivory / living together in perfect harmony, etc.

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Re: ha

Thank you for joining in, Dazed and Bemused.

Physical buttons, tricky one- my Sony Android phone has three buttons that respond to the merest touch, and so annoyingly get activated by accident. Gr. Still, maybe this capacitive solution is more durable - I had a few phones 'back in the day' that had a real button stop working. Conversely, I would like my camera to have the option of using a shutter release that doesn't require pressure, since it would lessen the chance of bringing motion blur to photos.

If I could make an improvement to my phone, it would be for it to have a millimetre ruler etched down the side - it's such a square lump of aluminium that it's ideal for it.

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Mushroom

Re: ha

Yes, iphone same since 2007. Apart from

6 models

4 case designs

doubling screen resolution

6? operating system versions

3 SIM sizes

moving to LTE from GSM via 3g

starting an app store, which has generated $8 billion for developers

quadrupling the cameras pixels whilst increasing aperture

doubling the number of cameras

doubling processor speed over five architectures

octupling system memory

quadrupling storage.

But apart from those, totally the same.

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Terminator

Re: ha

I think the arguement was more on the lack of innovation. As much as they say Android ripped them off, of that list I could happily say...

6 models

4 case designs

6? operating system versions

Aren't exactly innovations,

3 SIM sizes

Is just an attempt to create their own special standard to help lock in punters, since they won't be able to transfer their sim to a competitors phone.

doubling screen size

moving to LTE from GSM via 3g

quadrupling the cameras pixels whilst increasing aperture

doubling the number of cameras

doubling processor speed over five architectures

octupling system memory

quadrupling storage.

Each of these was acomplished by android or another competitor first, I have an old phone from 2005 with 2 cameras. doubling processor speed over five architectures is just general progression.

Effectively what I'm getting at is the original post was wrong, since the iPhone launch they have indeed improved over time, however they stopped innovating after teh iPhone.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ha

"3 SIM sizes ... Is just an attempt to create their own special standard to help lock in punters, since they won't be able to transfer their sim to a competitors phone."

Their own special standard, being that of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute approved standard that anyone can use? You mean that special standard? Or perhaps we should all be using the credit card-sized SIM of yore?

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Megaphone

Re: ha

And in pretty much every 'innovation' they lagged the rest of the phone market from what I remember, 3g was copying the competition as was camera and then video shooting, then once they'd roughly caught up with those features they started hiring shit engineers (or told the engineers to make shit) like external antenna's you could hold the wrong way (hey, apple's words not mine) and utter cobblers like the maps.

Their 'iconic' design still looks the same, too.. ie like a phone from six years ago and the tablets are more of the same but kinda like taking it back to the Motorola brickphone era but without being able to make a phone call. (For the record I don't like any tablets, none of them do what I need a portable 10" computing device to do, my phone can do 90% of it bar being-that-big and make and receive calls to boot).

Anyone who thinks apple have seriously innovated much since the first iphone need to stop drinking the koolaid and think how the feck apple could make _any_ of that stuff without display tech from Samsung, memory tech from Huawei (maybe Samsung flash), comms tech from Broadcom and manufacturing chops from Foxconn. like Google they're utterly dependant upon other people's tech to mashup into their stuff. Very unlike guys like Samsung, LG, Broadcom and Moto who do actually invent/progress new technologies. Before you say 'UI and UX' copying that into a mobile platform is a leap but only in the sense that all other computing devices have had icons and 'stuff' albeit not in a miniscule screen.

Flame away, cultists, you know you can't stop yourselves..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ha

"make the OS as attractive as the hardware"

How, their both FUGLY.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ha

"Yes, iphone same since 2007. Apart from

6 models

4 case designs

doubling screen resolution

6? operating system versions

3 SIM sizes

moving to LTE from GSM via 3g

starting an app store, which has generated $8 billion for developers

quadrupling the cameras pixels whilst increasing aperture

doubling the number of cameras

doubling processor speed over five architectures

octupling system memory

quadrupling storage.

But apart from those, totally the same."

Yeah, exactley! They are the same, with incremental uplifts as tech allows, not because Apple innovated.

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Holmes

Re: ha

Sounds like the real grumble is "Android has caught up and in a number of ways passed iOS - why can't Apple be special and wonderful any more?".

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Re: ha

No huge Apple fan here, but financially and operationally it is a REALLY bad idea to over innovate when the market is still consuming your current offering in droves. That is just bad business.

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Unhappy

Re: ha

I on the contrary AM a huge Apple fan. I'd love Apple to come up with a new, innovative iPhone (or iPad) and I'd be the first standing in line to give them my cash.

But the incremental business model they currently have depresses me no end. I was ready to buy the iPhone 5 back in 2011, then it turned out to be the 4S. Meh, no pennies from me Apple. Then I was ready to buy the iPhone 5 again in 2012, drooling with anticipation, then I saw it and thought meh. Again, no pennies from me.

I upgraded to the iPad 2 because of Retina, suffered through all the initial teething problems (returned the first 3(!) due to WiFi/3G problems) but am happy with the one I now have. Then came the iPad 3, meh. Then the iPad 4, meh again PLUS a feeling of thank f*ck I didn't get the iPad 3 because after 6 months it would be out of date already.

So as a true, genuine Apple fan I count 2 innovative, worthwhile products in the last 5 years, plus 3 waste-of-money incremental upgrades and a WTF for the iPad 4 launch.

Apple, my fan-fu is weakening.

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Anonymous Coward

Hmm...

Apple need to get rid of their pile of cash, rather than talk about it. It's not theirs, it's their shareholders', it should be returned to them or used for company development, more worryingly it puts the company at risk of takeover. You can effectively take the cash pile off the value of the company, a bunch of smaller companies wouldn't have much trouble getting hold of that kind of cash, then breaking up Apple into divisions, getting their tech, taking out their competition, all at 25%+ off the market value.

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Mushroom

Re: Hmm...

Hang-on: why is it not theirs but their shareholders? By that token no company should ever retain funds, they should immediately pay it all out in dividends. It's this kind of stupid, greedy engagement model that's caused the screwed economic situation that we're in now. It does not make sound economic sense for shareholder remuneration to keep on climbing at all costs. It sets false expectations and causes CEOs to make unsound judgements just to appease the shareholder and improve their own bonus situation. It gives a skewed picture of a companies financial position and actively encourages speculative investment. Altogether short sighted. If companies spent a little more time planning for the future and a little less pandering to every shareholder whim we'd be in a lot better place all round.

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Silver badge

Re: Hmm...

"Hang-on: why is it not theirs but their shareholders?"

You need to learn some truths.

Fundamentally the shareholders own all of their company's assets. It is their's to do whatever they wish with. A company is run as an alliance of shareholders, with the board and chairman employed to represent the consensus view as to how the company should be run. If the shareholders collectively decide they want their money then they can have it, even if that's not a good idea for the long term health of the company.

Apple bosses of recent years have been the sort who seemingly enjoy looking at the cash pile and counting it daily. They clearly have no sensible plan for the money; they've done nothing with it so far. With Apple's share price falling these days the value for investors is now that cash pile, not share trading profits. This lawsuit may be the first sign that the consensus view is going to change, and if Cook doesn't like that they'll sack him and put in a replacement.

It all goes back to the walled-garden strategy the Jobs kicked off with the iPod, and carried on with for the iPhone and iPad. Set people loose in such a garden and now matter how pretty it is they'll eventually get to the edge and want to get out. Apple aren't really making the garden any bigger; eg fancy displays aren't going to be a long lived unique selling point. Unfortunately for Apple the metaphore doesn't extend to the walls being too high to climb; customers can just go and buy an Android.

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Re: Hmm...

Bazza is right. The shareholders own the business, Cook is just the custodian he needs to act in the shareholders' interests, not his (yes, I know he is a shareholder too).

The other issue is that having a gargantuan cash pile you are not doing anything much with it. You stick it in the bank and get, maybe 3% return (you could drive a bargain with that much). If that's the best you can achieve with it, why not give it back to the business owners who could try and put it somewhere where it would earn them more? Such as another company's shares, or a new startup etc. etc.

Companies need cash, but they don't need Scrroge McDuck-esque piles of it.

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Facepalm

Re: Hmm...

Yes, I do understand that the Shareholders *own* the company but as the custodian Cook has a duty of obligation to act in the company's interest and that is not necessarily the same as the owner's. He has a duty to ensure that the company is run in a financially prudent way and that it complies with all of its legal and regulatory obligations. This includes but is not limited to making sure that there is sufficient money retained to ensure that not only can the company grow but that it can also survive a down-turn in the economy. The shareholders might expect that all the money that comes in the door be paid straight back out to them in the way of dividends (after paying the bills of course) but this would not be sound business practice. Again, inflated shareholder expectations are the reason we have so many maladministered companies. It is not a sustainable model as has so ably been demonstrated.

Without access to Apple's accounts I cannot comment on what is happening or planned with regards to its cash pile. I do know that having such a large amount of money available changes the market dynamics and in its favour. It is able to react quickly should it need to; it is able to survive a downturn in the market; it gives it better leverage when negotiating credit or other contracts. Getting a 3% return (and I am betting they are probably getting a higher percentage rate than that) on several billion dollars is still not a bad income.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmm...

Actually I think you'll find that he is legally obliged to act in the best interests of his shareholders and the company as such is completely irrelevant. i.e. if it is in the best interests of the shareholders that the company be wound up then that is what he is obliged to do.

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Mushroom

Re: Hmm...

You can downvote me all you like. It doesn't change the reality of the situation. The CEOs want to appease the shareholders so they can garner bigger and bigger bonuses. To do this they pay out silly dividends, along with various other malpractices that i have neither the time nor the energy to go in to here, and in doing so over inflate the share price. Speculators jump in; buy; the shares; take the dividends and sell on quickly. Creating an artificial view of the company's worth and so further inflating the price (and the CEO's bonus) even further. And so on and so forth...

No doubt there'll be plenty of down-votes from other greed oriented idiots. Bring it on, baby ;-)

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Mushroom

Re: Hmm... @ sabba 11:57 GMT

downvoted 'cos you don't know what you're talking about.

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FAIL

Re: Hmm... @ sabba 11:57 GMT

You think?

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Trollface

Re: Hmm... @ sabba 11:57 GMT

but of course

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Holmes

Re: Hmm... @ sabba 11:57 GMT

But do you, really or do you just think you do? ;-)

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Silver badge
Stop

Like Prozac?

When ever I've left an Apple store I feel more depressed than when I went in. Either I can't afford what I want or I have a nagging feeling I've spent a lot more than I should have.

So, more like anti-Prozac really.

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Bronze badge

Re: Like Prozac?

In your case it sounds more like Thorazine, I feel for you. In my case, I find just looking into the store induces an "peaking" LSD feeling, I have to turn my head before reality shatters.

Is it me or does it seem when you look into the store you are watching an episode of "Sprockets"?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHZR9SA5pOg

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: Like Prozac?

Personally I think it's more like Ipecac.

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Anonymous Coward

He needs to shut up and get some decent products released. Apple can't sue away Samsung's lead no matter how hard they try.

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Mushroom

>He needs to shut up and get some decent products released.

Can you expand on that? The specs of their kit look decent enough, even if the price is a little high. Some of their stuff boasts some quite desirable features that are hard to find elsewhere, such as the aspect ratio and resolution of the pricier Macbook screens. Several market intelligence sites suggest they are among the more reliable brands.

>Apple can't sue away Samsung's lead no matter how hard they try.

Apple might not threaten Samsung, but today's news headlines suggest that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (if Sara Palin -yeah, right- those are the 'bad guys' in the North, and yes, I agree their self-given name is misleading) is warming up to give it a go! See icon and a news site near you.

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Holmes

See higher up the page

Apple's good fortunes exist by dint of the thousands of man hours of real inventing done by the companies they buy their components from.

Unless you actually believe they invent and manufacture touchscreens, flash, ram, and comms gear. Gadget mashups and, until recently, stunning marketing are all that apple is. Good at it they are but that's it. looks a lot like they've run out of 'wow' now, too, hence the shareholders justifiably thinking they might just deserve a return on all that investment.

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Bronze badge

he makes a fair point

.... But in order to avoid this all he has to do is to separate the 3 measures from 1 vote into 3.

That way shareholders can let their views known about the 3 measures independently rather than the carrot and stick they are trying.

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FAIL

I still don't understand how they're allowed to get away with posting massive profits and refusing to pay dividends to the shareholders... Isn't that the whole point of owning stock in a company? If the company does well, they give you a chunk of change based on the amount of stock you own...

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Reasons for owning stock

" Isn't that the whole point of owning stock in a company?"

That's one reason (getting dividends). The other (and the only one that Apple seems to subscribe to) is the increased value in the stock as it climbs ever skyward. However, under Apple's view of the situation, you only get a payback/make a profit when you sell.

I would refer Antipodean readers of a certain age to think of Poseidon, although moving at a far slower rate.

While we're here, here's a free bit of advice to Apple management:

Don't cheese off your stockholders

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Bronze badge

They are paying a dividend this very same week.

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Anonymous Coward

new fabs

they're going to have to use a whole wad of that cash to build/run and maintain their own fabs/manufacturing plants in the USA when it all kicks off out in the far east. better to have money for future investment and plans than have rich shareholders sat on their fat arses doing bugger all for society.

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Silver badge

Re: new fabs

Well, in recent years we've been reminded of the effects of having a supply chain too heavily based in one geographical area, [Earthquake in Japan, floods in Thailand]

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Coat

Re: new fabs

"[Earthquake in Japan, floods in Thailand]..."

[children in China]

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Re: new fabs

You seem to have a slightly unrealistic view on who shareholders actually are.

Do you have a pension scheme? If so, the money for your future pension is invested in company stock - in other words the pension plan is a shareholder in various companies. Once you're retired, the money is usually put into a number of investment funds - who are shareholders. So your pension will be dependant on things like the dividends paid by these companies.

Of course all companies should have SOME money set aside for a rainy day, and another tranche put into R&D, but the people who put up money in the first place should be getting a decent return on their investment.

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Anonymous Coward

OMFG

Likening stores to drugs...?

Try Ketamin Tim, cool at the moment too yah.

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Thumb Up

Plus 1

for use of the word "Brobdingnagian"

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WTF?

Apple from amending its charter ... issuance of preferred stock without the approval of shareholders

Cook is no Jobs, who had dictatorship down to a fine art.

What Cook does share is his wanting to treat Apple shareholders as he does it's product purchasers as an necessary pain in the a*se. Cook is not a money man - he is a supply line specialist.

He should accept he is the servant of the board of directors who derive their power from the shareholders.

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Anonymous Coward

"When Cook has the blues, he medicates himself by visiting an Apple retail store. "It's like Prozac," he said"

Funnily enough, seeing an Apple store makes me want to take prozac. Fking depressing.

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The difference is that he *owns* the store, and every lemming in there is another kaching for him.

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Bronze badge

Whos money is it anyway?

... I can't quite yet believe Apple shareholders are as gullible as its evangelised users.

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