"it's more than we need to run the company"
Apple has given in to shareholder pressure on director voting, but is still thinking about what to do with its vast mountain range of cash. The fruity firm is sitting on $98bn, which in single dollar bills is roughly equivalent to 45 Olympic swimming pools stuffed with notes or half of a regular-sized supertanker groaning with …
They start paying a dividend? That money belongs to the shareholders and if it is more than is reasonably and foreseeably required to run the company, it should be given back to them.
Also, while they're at it, hows about setting up some charitable giving, like every other company in Silicon Valley, and helping out those less lucky than them.
Beg pardon? What planet do you descend from?
The last time I checked the resources of a company belong to the company, not the shareholders. This kind of attitude is precisely why companies are scared of investing in R&D because they fear the inevitable "we demand dividends, and if we don't get them, we sue your ass until you give 'em to us".
Your rights as a shareholder are spelled out to you in your share issue. Unless the company's share classes specify that you will be guaranteed a dividend, you are *NOT* automatically entitled to one. The cashola in Apple's bank's vaults are its own. If you don't like it, sell your shares. But you won't because you know you're better off with Apple shares (even without dividends) than without.
Err... The shareholders own the company, ergo the shareholders own it's money. If the company wants to own the money it should go private and buy all its shares back from the customers.
Not issuing a dividend actually encourages the shareholders to make short term investments, which is not good for the company. It even encourages short selling - why would you bother with long term investments, if you're not going to see any return on your money? Best make ultra short term investments based on product release cycles.
As for paying a dividend preventing R&D - you ask me what planet I'm from? If a tech company doesn't do R&D no-one is going to invest in it are they?
And what would the shareholders do with it that was a better investment than having it in Apple shares?
By announcing a dividend you say that you don't see any future growth for the company and you are now basically a blue-chip utility type stock and should be priced as such = a 90% drop in the share price.
It doesn't matter what the shareholders are going to do with it. They may diversify their portfolio, they may spend it. Who cares?
I really don't understand your 2nd para - Apple is very unusual in a large multinational company who are performing well, in that they don't pay a dividend. Why would their share price fall if they announced that the big fat pile of cash they're always banging on about is going to be in part given to the shareholders, if anything that would make Apple shares more desirable and therefore go up in price.
Spend it on R&D, the end. They run around all day suing people and other companies for "slide-to-unlock" and other stupid patents, and have enough money to build their own fracking Moon base. Pathetic.
Here are some ideas off the top of my head you could work on.
1) A better material for a rubber sphincter to close the headphone jack when not being used, to keep lint and water out. Hell how about just using it on every opening on the iWhatever.
2) Make iTunes work better, or at least decrypt the database on your iWhatever so I can use something other than iTunes to upload music to an iWhatever.
3) With 98 billion in R&D, iPhones should have THE BEST ANTENNAE ever created by man.
4) Hire a guy to suss out white (and other colored) materials during the design phase, so that it doesn't take 2 years to release a white model.
5) Design better anti-reflective screens, don't just wait for another company to do it, then buy theirs.
6) Ditto above but in regards to scratch-proofing screens.
7) Develop colored e-ink screens that are fast look like LCDs, and make them so good, that no one ever uses LCDs ever again.
8) Develop better production line robots to replace all those slave-wage worker jobs you currently need to make your iWhatever.
9) Develop a wireless mesh network that uses the anonymous nodes you sell to people for access, to carry the signal from place to place, so we can have truly anonymous free wireless networking everywhere.
10) Move manufacturing jobs back to the US and not make so much profit on your iWhatever that they don't even know what to spend it on.
They could use the money to build a factory in US, pay a decent wage and no longer have to worry about abuses in FoxConn's factory or worry about FoxConn engineers losing prototypes. Hell, they could build it next to Samsung's new Texas factory, then they wouldn't have to ship most of the parts.
Maybe then they could have a program where Fanbois could work at the factory and if they assemble 1000 iPhones, they get to keep one. Free labor and fanbois get the latest i-Device.
Of course then they could also take the moral high-road and lord it over every other company that manufactures things in China.
Spend about .001% of the cash, hire some programmers and rewrite/fix the iTunes client? Please?
There are several major bugs that I run into with iOS5 and iTunes pretty much every day (and plenty of other people complain about the same issues on line) that Apple should fix if they weren't making vast sums of money anyway.
After that, I don't really care what Apple do with the piles of case, but it would be amusing for them to do something like buy Nokia, kill what's left of WP7 and use Nokia to cover the non-smartphone market or as a low end phone brand.
Of course the shareholders own the company - i.e. a SHARE of it - so they do own the cash Apple have in the bank. The question is that is down to the board to run the company and decide what to do with that cash - their whole remit is to maximise shareholder value. Of course if a board goes too far against the wishes of the majority of the shareholders they can be replaced.
The Apple board had decided to grow the cash pile - but really these days it's getting so huge they really do need to do something with it. The options would be nothing (continue as they are), share buy backs, dividends or spend it (i.e. buy another company or companies).
The last thing shareholders want to do is force the board into spending it - all too often in history boards have bought other companies - but paid too much = poor value for shareholders. $100bn+ cash (as it probably is now) or even if they had to spend more could pretty much buy almost any other tech company out there - it's not as if they are not good for a loan.
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