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Published: Friday, 2/8/2013

Apple sued over habit of keeping pile of cash

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Apple's $137 billion in cash makes up nearly a third of Apple’s stock market value. Shares of the Cupertino, Calif., company closed at $468.22 Thursday, up $13.52, or 3 percent, from Wednesday’s close. Apple's $137 billion in cash makes up nearly a third of Apple’s stock market value. Shares of the Cupertino, Calif., company closed at $468.22 Thursday, up $13.52, or 3 percent, from Wednesday’s close.
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NEW YORK — With its annual meeting looming and its stock on the decline, Apple Inc. is facing a rebellion from an influential investor who wants the company to stop stockpiling cash and give it to shareholders instead.

Greenlight Capital said Thursday it is suing Apple in federal court over the company’s proposal to make it more difficult for it to issue preferred stock. David Einhorn, who heads the investment fund, said the proposal would close down one avenue for Apple to reward shareholders with more cash.

Apple is still the world’s most valuable company, but its stock has lost 35 percent of its value since September as it has become obvious its once-rapid growth has slowed down. The company is fabulously profitable, and Wall Street wants the company to share more of that money with its shareholders rather than tucking it away in low-yielding bank accounts.

“Apple has $145 per share of cash on its balance sheet. As a shareholder, this is your money,” Mr. Einhorn said in a letter to the company. He has a history of criticizing companies publicly, often after shorting their stocks.

In a statement Thursday, Apple said its management and board continue “active discussions” about what to do with the money, and it will take Mr. Einhorn’s proposal into consideration.

Its $137 billion in cash makes up nearly a third of Apple’s stock market value. Shares of the Cupertino, Calif., company closed at $468.22 Thursday, up $13.52, or 3 percent, from Wednesday’s close.

Corporations normally do not hoard cash the way Apple does. They keep enough on hand for immediate needs, and invest the rest in their operations or hand it out to shareholders as dividends or stock buybacks.

If they need cash for, say, an acquisition, they borrow it. Apple has not explained why it hoards cash other than it is preserving its options.

After former Chief Executive Officer Steve Job’s death in October, 2011, Apple began paying a quarterly dividend of $2.65 per share and started to repurchase some shares.


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