Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Tim Cook's 2-week, $14 billion Apple buying opportunity

February 7, 2014: 7:56 AM ET

While the Street was dumping Apple, Cook -- and Carl Icahn -- were snapping up shares.

chart_ws_stock_appleinc_20142755659_614xa

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

FORTUNE -- Tim Cook's interview in Friday's Wall Street Journal puts the attached Apple (AAPL) stock chart in a new light.

What looked to human day traders and computer algorithms on Jan. 27 like a signal to sell, Cook saw as a buying opportunity.

He was surprised, he told the Journal, that Apple's share price fell 8% after the company turned in its Q1 2014 earnings and Q2 guidance.

But while the Street was shorting the stock, Cook's people were in there snapping up shares -- 26.7 million of them, by my calculation.

It puts into perspective the roughly 1 million shares Carl Icahn says he bought on Jan. 28. (See bar chart.)

Icahn, of course, is the corporate-raider-turned-shareholder-activist who's been trying to shake some of Apple's $159 billion holdings in cash and marketable securities out of the company's coffers and into the hands of shareholders like him. His latest proposal comes up for a vote at Apple's Feb. 28 shareholders meeting.

"Just bought $500 mln more $AAPL shares," he tweeted on Jan. 28. "My buying seems to be going neck-and-neck with Apple's buyback program, but hope they win that race."

Cook told the Journal that he wants to be "aggressive" and "opportunistic" with Apple's cash, but he has also made it clear that he will not be rushed. (See Apple's Tim Cook to billionaire Carl Icahn: Step aside.)

"[We] want to be able to adjust for the long-term interest of the shareholders," he said, "not for the short-term shareholder, not for the day trader."

With its latest purchases Apple has now spent $40 billion of the $60 billion it had previously planned to spend by the end of 2015 buying back its own shares. Cook told the Journal that the company will have "updates" to that plan in March or April.

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Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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