FORTUNE -- All the noise over what Apple ought to do with its cash almost makes one wistful for the days when everyone obsessed only over Apple's products.
Time coverboy Carl Icahn is on Apple's (AAPL) case to give back more of its cash to shareholders -- like himself. It's a perfectly reasonable position to take. Apple's hoard had grown to the nine figures with no reasonable prospects for spending that kind of money. It is a credit to whiners like Icahn that Apple already has committed to spending $100 billion on a combination of stock buybacks and dividends.
On Wednesday, Icahn told Time and his nearly 119,000 Twitter followers that he plans to make a precatory proposal that Apple increase its buyback program. (Precatory means "of, relating to, or expressing a wish or request." In other words, it is non-binding. It's his way of saying "pretty please.")
The catch is that Icahn acknowledged his new request is "not at the $150 billion level." That's a reference to his previous suggestion for the amount Apple should jump on straight away. (Read to the end and you'll see that Icahn volunteers to not receive any of that $150 billion, presumably because he'd benefit anyway from the rise in the stock price.)
So what is the new level? CNBC, citing a source, says Icahn wants $50 billion now, and that he'd like it by the end of the current fiscal year, which is 10 months away. Icahn didn't tell Time that figure, and he hasn't yet tweeted it. We're relying on CNBC's source for it.
But assuming the figure is correct, Icahn has gone from $150 billion right now to $50 billion when Apple can get around to it. For the most part, the commentary has been of the variety that Icahn remains on Apple's case, riding it hard for the cash hoarder it is. Forbes.com wrote that Icahn "wasn't joking" about the $150 billion buyback. Except it appears he was.
For the record, Apple has authorized buybacks of $60 billion and has already made $23 billion worth. It has paid out a total of $13 billion in dividends. The company said Wednesday it plans to respond on the matter sometime early next year.
So let me get this straight: Icahn had dinner with Apple CEO Tim Cook, he's scaling back his request for cash that should be paid to shareholders, and Apple's stock has risen dramatically in the last six months, from around $400 to $565?
Can we now please return to grousing about important things, like when Apple's television will arrive?
Buying back shares will boost EPS and save Apple $1.5 billion a year in dividends.
FORTUNE -- By the time it decided in April to increase its stock buyback program five fold -- from $10 billion to $60 billion -- Apple (AAPL) already spent $1.95 billion of the original $10 billion fund and had bought and retired nearly 4.1 million shares of Apple common stock. Average share price, according to the MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - May 13, 2013 8:35 AM ET
SEC filing suggests that its $60 billion stock buyback has not yet begun in earnest.
FORTUNE -- Apple (AAPL) on Monday set in motion the financial mechanisms necessary to initiate the $100 billion cash management plan announced last week.
By 11 a.m., according to an SEC Form S-3 filing, the company will have deposited the cash necessary to pay accrued dividends. According to Reuters it will also be holding a series of meetings with potential MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Apr 29, 2013 10:27 AM ET
Apple (AAPL) gave Wall Street what it had been asking for
The Street's reaction has been largely positive, and the stock closed Monday at a new all-time high: $601.10, up $15.53 (2.65%) for the day.
Jefferies' Peter Misek: Dividend and Buyback Bigger Than Expected. Apple announced a $10.60 annual dividend (1.8%) commencing in CQ3 and $10B buyback over three years (to offset dilution). We had expected a dividend announcement in H2 in the MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Mar 19, 2012 10:19 AM ET
The company is likely to hold on to its $100 billion cash hoard -- at least for now
I suspect that the number one question on the mind of Apple (AAPL) shareholders gathering today at 1 Infinite Loop for the company's annual meeting is what Tim Cook plans to do with Apple's roughly $100 billion in cash and marketable securities.
"I think it's clear to everyone, and I'd be the first to admit, MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Feb 23, 2012 8:02 AM ET
An analyst asks whether it can keep outperforming the market without paying a dividend
Toni Sacconaghi just won't give up.
For more than two years, Bernstein Research's top Apple (AAPL) analyst been after Steve Jobs to spend some of the company's growing cash hoard ($51 billion as of September), preferably on a stock buyback or cash dividend.
"Shareholder frustration," he wrote in an open letter to the board of directors in August, "is MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Dec 8, 2010 11:54 AM ET
He will ignore the latest call for Apple to share its huge cash hoard as he ignores them all
Most of the arguments for and against the open letter to Apple's (AAPL) board of directors issued Thursday by Bernstein Research's Toni Sacconaghi have already been made. (See here and here.)
Sacconaghi's polemics against Apple's policy of holding on to its profits -- rather than distributing them to its shareholders -- tend to MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Aug 13, 2010 8:48 AM ET
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