Will Apple’s plan to begin a $10 billion stock buy back and pay dividends of $2.65 a share on July 1 worry some employees? After all, Steve Jobs is still a presence in Cupertino, and to some his arguments against such moves still count.
Cash gives us tremendous security and flexibility. When you take risks, it’s like jumping up in the air, and it’s nice to know the ground will be there when you land. We run our company conservatively from a financial point of view because you never know what opportunity is around the corner…We’re very fortunate that if we needed to acquire something we could write a check for it and not have to borrow money.
Of course, Jobs was clear that Apple had to continue evolving as a company with or without him, and specifically told Tim Cook to make his decisions without regard to “What Would Steve Do?” And that, apparently, is what Cook did.
We have used some of our cash to make great investments in our business through increased research and development, acquisitions, new retail store openings, strategic prepayments and capital expenditures in our supply chain, and building out our infrastructure. You’ll see more of all of these in the future. Even with these investments, we can maintain a war chest for strategic opportunities and have plenty of cash to run our business. So we are going to initiate a dividend and share repurchase program.
If Cook’s thinking different, Apple employees are still in a good place. The new iPad’s sold 3 million units in just four days. Combine that with company assets of $100 billion or so and the steady rise of its stock price, and it feels like their jobs will be solid for some time to come. Especially if I’m right on three things: We’ll soon meet Apple’s iTV, a new iPhone and probably iOS 6.
If you work at Apple, are you nervous? Let me know.