So there’s this fight over what Apple should do with its money and I think it boils down to:
Lots of people think that Apple is undervalued,
Some of those people say: “so, since the market undervalues you, a dollar in your hands is valued less than a dollar in shareholders’ hands, and since you have Just. So. Many. Dollars. in your hands, why not give some back to shareholders, like in the form of colossal dividends, or even more amusingly in the form of tens or hundreds of billions of dollars of preferred stock?”
Others say: “no, the market’s valuation is irrelevant, you should stealthily keep investing your zillions of dollars into building wrist computers or whatever, and one day your stock will catch up.”
If these arguments sound familiar that’s because they are; you can pretty much always find an activist who thinks that a company should return cash to shareholders feuding with a management who thinks they should be investing that cash in growing the business. And they’re endless because they’re tough to adjudicate: everyone is sort of talking their own book. There is a pile of money, and some people say “we should have the money,” and others say “no we should have the money,” and, y’know, duh they’d say that. Are return-the-cash activist shareholders just greedy short-termers destroying long-term value? Are managers who prefer to invest the cash just blinkered empire-builders who don’t care about the welfare of the people actually funding their wrist-computer adventures?
“It is kind of like my grandma Roz. She wanted to hoard money. She would not leave me a message on my answering machine because she did not want to be charged for a phone call. It is really hard to convince somebody with that mindset to change what they’re doing. We have come up with what we think is a win-win situation for Apple where Apple gets to keep its war chest, they get to keep the money, they get to have it for bad times, for growth, for acquisitions.”[Bloomberg TV, earlier]
David Einhorn is suing Apple to make them give shareholders a separate vote over whether shareholders should have a vote over whether Apple can issue preferred stock. I guess that requires some unpacking. Let’s start at the end, with the preferred stock. Here is Einhorn’s plan:
For example, Apple could initially distribute to existing shareholders $50 billion of perpetual preferred stock, with a 4% annual cash dividend paid quarterly at preferential tax rates. … Assuming Apple retains its price to earnings multiple of 10x and the preferred stock yields 4%, our calculations show that every $50 billion of perpetual preferred stock that Apple distributes would unlock about $30 billion, or $32 per share in value. Greenlight believes that Apple has the capacity to ultimately distribute several hundred billion dollars of preferred, which would unlock hundreds of dollars of value per share. Further, Greenlight believes additional value may be realized when Apple’s price to earnings multiple expands, as the market appreciates a more shareholder friendly capital allocation policy.
What do you think? I vote yes. (I mean, I think it’s a good idea. The voting is more complicated.) My math is here and ties closely to Einhorn’s:
The math is super straightforward though it can and should boggle you conceptually if you think about it. Read more »
David Einhorn, Greenlight Capital: “Cranberry sauce — not from the can, just cranberries and sugar.” Julian Robertson, Tiger Management: “Wild rice.” Gary Cohn, Goldman Sachs: “Oysters — not shucked by me.” Glenn Dubin, Highbridge Capital Management: “I love turkey. I would love to eat turkey all year round, because I’m a chicken person.” David Hasselhoff, actor: “I miss the dish my mother used to make: it was green beans, with a layer of marshmallows, and corn flakes on top.” [Bloomberg via LaurenTaraLaCapra, RELATED]
David Einhorn’s $7.7 billion hedge fund Greenlight Capital Inc. disclosed a short position of 4.4 percent in the shares of Daily Mail and General Trust Plc, which publishes the U.K.’s second-biggest selling daily newspaper.
Greenlight’s bearish bet on London-based Daily Mail and General Trust, disclosed today on the website of the U.K.’s Financial Services Authority, was the biggest short position revealed by any hedge fund against a U.K. company under rules that took effect last week.
And yet there’s also this:
What are you doing, England? Don’t you know that when David Einhorn is short a stock, that stock goes down? There are rules here you know; today’s mild drop is not enough to comply. Read more »
In other GL third quarter updates, sources at Brovada say the investment team has swung from two point underdogs to 13.5 point favorites in the annual interoffice basketball game and the Greenlight baby-making machine continues to around the clock. Read more »
During a presentation on Tuesday at which he was expected to reveal his latest bearish thesis, Mr. Einhorn, a hedge fund manager, introduced a discussion of General Motors with an ambiguous line. Mr. Einhorn, the president of Greenlight Capital, pivoted on the ticker symbol of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, a target of his criticism last year. “If you take the CR away from GMCR, you get G.M.,” Mr. Einhorn said. Shares of General Motors plunged, before investors realized that the assessment of the automaker was positive. Mr. Einhorn emphasized the folly of taking his ideas on faith. “It doesn’t make sense to blindly follow me or anyone else into a stock,” he said as a preface to his presentation at the Value Investing Congress in Manhattan. “Do your own work. And when a successful investor shows you their work, check their work.” [Dealbook]