Carl Icahn Takes Another Bite of Apple

Carl Icahn, Herbalife, Netflix

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn revealed that he boosted his stake in Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) by another 2.8 million shares in a recent regulatory filing made with the Securities and Exchange Commission, reports The Wall Street Journal. Icahn now holds over 7.5 million shares in the Cupertino-based company. Based on Apple’s last closing price of $588.82, Icahn now has a stake in the company worth approximately $4.4 billion.

Apple announced that it was expanding its capital return program to over $130 billion when it reported its fiscal 2014 second quarter financial results last month. Part of the expansion included increasing the share repurchase program to $90 billion from the previously announced $60 billion level. Apple also announced plans to increase its quarterly dividend to $3.29 from the previous level of $3.05.

Apple’s announcement undoubtedly pleased Icahn, who previously embarked on a campaign to convince Apple to return more cash to shareholders, after he disclosed his “large position” in the iPhone maker via Twitter last August. He also met with CEO Tim Cook last September and repeatedly told the media that the stock could trade at $700 a share if Apple funded a $150 billion buyback. Last October, the activist investor even told CNBC that he would consider a proxy fight if Apple didn’t act on his proposal.

However, Icahn dropped his proposal soon after Cook revealed that the company had repurchased $14 billion of its own shares in an interview with The Wall Street Journal in February. In an open letter to shareholders that he posted on his Shareholders’ Square Table website, Icahn revealed that he was dropping his proposal, because “the company is already so close to fulfilling our requested repurchase target.”

After Apple reported its fiscal 2014 second quarter financial results last month, Icahn stated that the company’s stock still “remains meaningfully undervalued,” reports The Wall Street Journal. Icahn has repeatedly cited Apple’s history of successful new product introductions as one of the reasons why the company is undervalued. In another open letter written to shareholders in January, Icahn mentioned the possibility of an Apple television, an iWatch, and a mobile payments service.

Although recent rumors related to an Apple television have centered on a streaming-television service that would work through a revamped Apple TV product, many other analysts believe that the other products cited by Icahn are real possibilities this year. Several prominent analysts, including KGI Securities’ Ming-Chi Kuo, have predicted that Apple will unveil a wrist-worn wearable tech device later this year.

Meanwhile, rumors of an iPhone-based mobile payments service were recently reignited when a source cited by BrightWire reported that Apple’s iPhone 6 will include a payment function based on Near Field Communication (NFC) technology.

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