Chief Executive Tim Cook said Apple Inc. repurchased $14 billion of its stock over the last two weeks after a weak outlook caused its share price to plunge.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Cook said he was “surprised” by the 8% drop one day after the company’s first-quarter earnings report. Apple projections for sales in the quarter ending in March were below what analysts had expected, and perhaps signaling its first year-over-year decline in revenue in more than a decade.
Cook said the company saw the drop in price as an opportunity to accelerate a buyback plan and get the stock at a bargain. Cook said Apple had repurchased more than $40 billion of its shares over the past year.
“It means that we are betting on Apple. It means that we are really confident on what we are doing and what we plan to do,” Cook told the Journal in a report Thursday. “We’re not just saying that. We’re showing that with our actions.”
The move also comes after months of pressure from shareholder activist Carl Icahn, who has urging the company to increase the size and pace of its share buyback. Icahn is asking Apple shareholders to approve a measure he placed on the company’s proxy that would signal their support for the bigger buyback.
The request will be voted on later this month at Apple’s annual shareholder meeting.
Brian White, an analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald, wrote in a note to clients that the $14-billion buyback was a savvy move. But he also said it probably won’t be enough to satisfy Icahn or shareholders.
“Last week, we indicated that a bigger buyback is required to satisfy shareholders given the recent stock weakness, and we are happy to see that Apple has taken advantage of this opportunity,” White wrote. “However, we believe more needs to be done."