Apple CEO calls for calm over sagging share price
Tim Cook moved to soothe investor fears during a shareholder meeting yesterday.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has acknowledged widespread disappointment in the company's sagging share price but shared few details about its secretive product pipeline .
The world's most valuable technology company headed into its annual shareholders' meeting at its headquarters on shakier ground than it has been accustomed to in years, since the iPhone and iPad helped vault the company to premier investment status.
A declining share price has lent weight to Wall Street's demand that it share more of its $137 billion in cash and securities pile - equivalent to Hungary's Gross Domestic Product, a debate now spearheaded by outspoken hedge fund manager David Einhorn.
I don't like it either. The board doesn't like it. The management team doesn't like it.
Einhorn was not spotted at the meeting at the company's headquarters at 1 Infinite Loop in Cupertino. Cook repeated that the company's board remained in "very very active" discussions about options for cash sharing, and said he shared investors' dissatisfaction over the stock price.
"I don't like it either. The board doesn't like it. The management team doesn't like it," Cook told investors.
"What we are focused on is the long term. This has always been a secret of Apple."
By focusing on the long term, revenue and profit will follow, he said.
Apple had the "mother of all years" last year with growth, in terms of dollars, outpacing that of Microsoft, Google, Nokia and several other major technology companies combined, Cook said.
Cook - who was re-elected to the board with 99.1 per cent of shareholder votes - added the company was working on new product categories, but, as usual, would not elaborate.
Speculation is rife on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley that the iPhone maker is working on a project to revolutionise the television and TV content, or a smart "iWatch."
Apple's stock was down 0.25 per cent to $447.86 in afternoon trade. It is now down more than 35 per cent from its $702.10 September peak.
Cook, who took over from late company co-founder Steve Jobs in 2011, answered a variety of questions from shareholders, including some on Apple's new headquarters, labour conditions in its factories and product plans.
One shareholder also asked why there was no bathroom in an Apple retail store in Santa Monica, California. Cook, acknowledging that it was an important point, said he will look into it.
On the new headquarters, Cook said the company plans to break ground later this year and occupy the facilities in 2016, a delay from the original 2015 target date.
The meeting largely followed the script with no distractions. Shareholders voted down two shareholder proposals, both of which were opposed by Apple's board. One wanted Apple leadership to hold more stock, the other was a proposal to create a board committee on human rights.