Business
Apple to make announcement on huge cash holdings
Published : Mar 19, 2012 - 11:23
Updated : Mar 19, 2012 - 11:27

Apple scheduled an announcement Monday on plans for its huge cash balance, estimated to be at least $97 billion from sales of its hugely successful gadgets like the iPad and iPhone.

An Apple statement said chief executive Tim Cook and chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer would hold a conference call at 6:00 am (1300 GMT) "to announce the outcome of the company's discussions concerning its cash balance."

The statement said there would be no other update on the current quarter or other topics.

Apple, with total available cash and securities at record highs -- some reports said it has more cash on hand than the US government -- has been under pressure to pay dividends to shareholders with some of those funds. The company does not currently pay dividends on its common stock.

But the announcement sparked speculation about other options for Apple, ranging from new research to big acquisitions.

"What Apple will do with its cash has long been a topic for discussion, with analysts and investment specialists crying for a dividend," said Matthew Panzarino at The Next Web blog.

"But the most likely option is an acquisition or large investment in technology of some sort. Perhaps Apple will acquire Twitter, the social network that it has so tightly integrated into its iOS and OS X operating systems."

In its most recent quarter, Apple reported a record profit $13.06 billion while revenue soared to an all-time high of $46.33 billion.

Apple said it sold 37.04 million iPhones in the quarter that ended on December 31, up 128 percent from a year ago, and 15.43 million iPads, a 111 percent increase.

The California-based gadget-maker sold 5.2 million Macintosh computers in the quarter, up 26 percent, and 15.4 million iPods, a 21 percent decline from a year ago.

Its new iPad went on sale on Friday with Apple fans lining up from Sydney to San Francisco to snap up the latest model of the hot-selling tablet computer, but without the huge queues for some other Apple devices.

Analyst Trip Chowdhry of Global Equities Research said Apple may be seeking to counter the muted response to the new iPad.

"There was no reason to send out this email on Sunday evening... probably to counterbalance bad news on soft launch of the new iPad with some good news on dividends," he said in a note to clients.

Cook, who took over Apple's leadership after the death of co-founder Steve Jobs, has said the company and its board have been studying ways to put its cash stockpile to good use.

According to the Dow Jones website All Things Digital, Cook told a Goldman Sachs conference in February that there were "active discussions at the board level on what we should do," and that the company was carefully weighing its options.

"We are not going to run out and have a toga party," he said.

"I'd be the first to admit we have more cash than we need to run the daily business. So we're actively discussing it. I only ask for a bit of patience, so we can do it in a way that's best for the shareholders." (AFP)

 

<한글 기사>

애플, 현금보유액 무려 110조.. 어디로 가나?

거액의 현금을 보유한 미국 애플사가 19일(현지시간) 현금 처리문제에 관한 내부 전화회의(컨퍼런스 콜)를 갖고 그 결과를 발표할 예정 이어서 지대한 관심이 쏠리고 있다.

현재 약 980억 달러의 현금 및 유가증권을 보유한 애플은 이날 오전 9시 팀 쿡 최고경영자(CEO)와 피터 오펜하이머 최고재무책임자(CFO) 등 경영진 이사들이 전화 회의를 갖고 현금 처리 문제를 집중 논의할 계획이라고 밝혔다.

애플이 이날 회의에서 어떤 내용에 대해 어떤 결론을 내릴지는 불확실하나 월가 에서는 보유현금 활용과 관련된 내용이 될 것으로 보고 있다.

만약 배당을 실시하면 이미 주당 600달러를 돌파, 고공행진을 하고 있는 애플 주가에도 상당한 영향을 미칠 것으로 예상된다.

앞서 월가는 애플사가 올해 주주들에게 현금 배당을 할 것이라는 쪽에 무게를 실어왔다.

애플은 아이폰과 아이패드 판매 등의 호조로 엄청난 수익을 냈고, 정상적 기업 경영에 필요한 이상으로 현금 보유량이 넘쳐나 주주들로부터 거센 배당 압력을 받아 왔다.

주주들은 애플이 투자자들에게 배당 등을 통해 투자수익을 환원할 것을 촉구했고, 쿡은 "경영진이 적극적인 논의를 하고 있다"고 밝힌 바 있다.

이에 따라 전문가들은 애플이 한차례 배당을 실시하거나 주식 환매를 할 것으로 예상하고 있다. 앞서 블룸버그 등은 기존 정보기술(IT) 업체들의 배당 관행을 고려해 볼 때 애플이 주당 2달러의 배당을 할 것으로 전망했다.

한편 쿡은 전임자 고(故) 스티브 잡스에 비해 배당에 대해 탄력적인 자세를 보여왔다. 그는 지난 2월 애플의 정기 주주총회에서 "현금 사용 방법에 대해 고민중"이라고 밝혔다. 반면 스티브 잡스는 배당이나 자사주 매입을 반대했었다.

 

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