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?
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FORTUNE -- Tim Cook, as he would be first to admit, was not born with Steve Jobs' gift for gab.
But it doesn't help that he -- and the rest of Apple's (AAPL) senior staff -- still talk as if there were no adjectives in the English language but the handful that Jobs used again and MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Nov 27, 2013 10:31 AM ET
Icahn's $2 billion stake amounts to half of 1% of Apple's outstanding shares.
FORTUNE --Reuters and Bloomberg made a big deal last week about the fact that Carl Icahn had increased his investment in Apple (AAPL)
from 3.8 million shares (worth $1.8 billion)
to 4.7 million shares (worth $2.4 billion).
Why this was considered news, given that Icahn disclosed it three weeks ago, was not clear from their reports.
Their reports also failed to put those MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Nov 17, 2013 8:29 AM ET
Steve Jobs was focused on innovative products. His successor is focused on process.
FORTUNE -- At a Business Insider conference Friday, ex-iPod hardware chief Tony Fadell praised Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook as an innovator.
But he wasn't talking about whizzy new products like the iPhone or iPad. Cook's expertise is in operations -- in the supply chain that produces those iPhones and iPads.
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Sends letter to Tim Cook urging him to boost his share repurchase plan to $150 billion
FORTUNE -- Tim Cook is getting the full Carl Icahn treatment.
A phone call (and some tweets about it) in August.
A meeting (also tweeted) in September.
And on Thursday, an 860-word letter, published on his new shareholder's roundtable website.
In the corporate raider's latest missive he reiterates in public the points he presumably made to Cook in private: MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Oct 24, 2013 10:36 AM ET
Apple trimmed iPhone 5C orders 50%. Or was it 20%? Or 35%?
FORTUNE -- I knew there was a reason I didn't comment on the several reports of iPhone production order changes -- up and down -- that came across the business wires last week. (See here, here and here.)
But it wasn't until I read the MacDailyNews' take on the issue Saturday that I could articulate why.
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With Tim Cook's blessing and $50 million in funding from backers like Andreessen Horowitz, robotics outfit Anki already has buzz other startups could only dream of. Hands-on with its first product.
FORTUNE -- When Tim Cook introduced Anki CEO Boris Sofman onstage at Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference this June, more than a few audience members wondered who Sofman was and how an unknown startup -- one that hadn't launched -- snagged MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Oct 16, 2013 9:00 PM ET
Apple's co-founder died two years ago today.
FORTUNE -- The video above was posted on Apple's (AAPL) home page on the first anniversary of Steve Jobs' death. On Friday, CEO Tim Cook marked the second anniversary with a letter to his employees:
Tomorrow marks the second anniversary of Steve's death. I hope everyone will reflect on what he meant to all of us and to the world. Steve was an amazing human MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Oct 5, 2013 7:33 AM ET
Remember when Tim Cook got grilled by those Senators? This is what came of it.
FORTUNE -- In June, three weeks after the media had their fun (ahem, Jon Stewart) with Tim Cook's appearance before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Apple (AAPL) received a fax from the Securities Exchange Commission.
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A dinner, a tweet, a pop in the market.
FORTUNE -- He's done it again.
In August, corporate raider Carl Icahn announced on Twitter that he believed Apple (AAPL) at $470 was "extremely undervalued." He said that he had taken a "large position" in the company, had talked to Tim Cook about accelerating the company's record $60-billion stock buyback program, and would be meeting with Cook to discuss it further.
On the strength MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Oct 1, 2013 10:44 AM ET
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