BW: Apple Should Buy Back Some Stock

Noting Appleis $18 billion in cash, Business Weekis Arik Hesseldahl believes that itis time for Apple to buy back some of its 879 million shares.

"Eighteen-and-a-half billion dollars is a lot of money," Mr. Hesseldahl opened. "Itis more than the estimated 2007 gross domestic product of Nicaragua. Itis bigger than the estimated 2005 expenditures of no fewer than 20 U.S. states. Itis enough to give $60.78 to every person in the United States..."

Whatis more, that cash accounts for US$21 of every share of Apple stock. Mr. Hesseldahl argued that itis high time Apple seriously considers returning some of that cash to its stockholders in the form of a buyback. An aggressive stock repurchase program would achieve three things for Apple.

First it would send a signal that Apple believes its best days are ahead of it. Second, it would give the stock price a lift. Finally, with fewer shares outstanding, it would increase earnings per share.

Considering the argument that Apple has used that all that cash is being held in strategic reserve for a considered acquisition, Mr. Hesseldahl didnit really see any candidate companies that would be wise for Apple to buy. Not even Adobe. TiVo might, "but why bother? Adding TV recording capabilities shouldnit be all that hard for Apple, and why would it want to support Tivois existing subscription and set-top business, especially when itis losing money?" Mr. Hesseldahl observed.

"While Iim the first to praise Apple management for the smart way it has run the business over the last several years, its lack of plans for its cash is starting to ring hollow....," Mr. Hesseldahl concluded. "How much more flexibility does Apple need? And how much bigger does that pile of cash need to be before itis enough?"