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Cook is wondering what to do with the company's $97.6 billion

There's no doubt that Apple is a cash cow. Just last year, many reports started circulating that the tech giant had a larger bank account than the U.S. government, where Apple ended June 2011 with $76.2 billion and the government had $73.8 billion. Now, Apple CEO Tim Cook is saying that the company has more money than it needs.

At the annual shareholders' meeting on Thursday, which is the first since former Apple CEO Steve Jobs' death, Cook tried to determine whether Apple should stop hoarding cash the way Jobs has been for years, or if it's time to stick a hand in the $97.6 billion cookie jar and pay shareholders a dividend this year.

Apple used to pay shareholders a quarterly dividend, but stopped doing so in 1995 because of Apple's financial hardships. Apple even had to turn to Microsoft for a $150 million infusion around the time that Jobs came back as CEO in 1997.

After those dark times, Jobs held on to every cent that the company made. When the new millennium rolled around, Apple started seeing great success with Macs, Macbooks, iPods/iPod touch's, iPhones and iPads. Despite the large amount of cash coming in, Jobs continued pinching pennies.

Now, Jobs has been deceased since October 5, 2011, and Cook is looking to use some of the money that it has because he said "it's more than we need to run the company." The problem is figuring out what to do with the money.

Paying a dividend to shareholders would offer a long-term increase to Apple's stock price because it would lure new investors who only buy shares in companies with a dividend.

However, Apple shareholder Asif Khan of Sugar Land, Texas suggested that Cook not provide a quarterly dividend every three months because it might be misinterpreted by some investors that Apple is losing faith in its ability to continue pushing its stock price higher as the company keeps introducing popular products. Rather, Khan would prefer Apple to pay a one-time divided later this year before the federal tax rate limits dividends to 15 percent.

Apple's stock has soared 50 percent over the past year, producing about $160 billion in shareholder wealth and now has a market value of $480 billion. Shares of Apple rose less than 1 percent to $516.39 at closing yesterday.

Another suggestion of what to do with the cash was to buy Greece, which is currently experiencing a debt crisis, but Cook said Apple is not interested.

The cash cow is only likely to get larger with Apple planning several product and software launches this year. For instance, the iPad 3 is due to be announced at an event next week, and the OS X Mountain Lion operating system is due this year as well.

Source: Bloomberg

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Stop patent trolling and give it to charity?
By quiksilvr on 2/24/2012 8:54:58 AM , Rating: 4
How about NOT wasting millions of dollars and time on that and instead focus that money towards the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation or make your own charity foundation?

That way Apple users will feel more smug about the fact that with every Mac they buy they are "changing the world" or whatever.

RE: Stop patent trolling and give it to charity?
By messele on 2/24/12, Rating: 0
By Shig on 2/24/2012 11:17:11 AM , Rating: 2
I think their best bet would be to look at any and all oil usage at every level on their balance sheets and try to eliminate it.

Personally I don't like charity because it creates no incentive. If I had a lot of money to give away I'd donate it to the X-Prize Foundation. There you see your money given back multiple times from all the teams that compete over your 'prize'.

For example, there are already attachments that go onto the iPhone that turn it into a microscope, a simple blood analyzer, and an optometry tool. Build up incentives that can let the iPhone do pretty much everything. Most medical tools haven't been really updated that much in decades.

By Cape Consultant on 2/24/2012 12:29:44 PM , Rating: 1
I one hundred percent agree with this. Birth control would cure all disease because the people would not exist so they would not get sick :)

I love Bill Gates, but I wold choose a much different way of spending that money.

But he earned it, so he gets to spend it, not me :(

By The Raven on 2/24/2012 1:37:40 PM , Rating: 2
Here is a classic no-cost solution. They would just need to run a balls-to-the-wall ad campaign...

RE: Stop patent trolling and give it to charity?
By sigmatau on 2/24/2012 9:10:32 PM , Rating: 1
Go to Japan if you want to see a slowdown in reproduction rates. It just blows my mind that what I learned in 6th grade eludes adults.

I think you are a horrible judge of charities. That charity is doing more for humanity than any other for the money they spend. If they could cure cancer or AIDS, they would. But instead, they wanted to get the most bang for their buck and eradicate other horrible diseases that would save the most lives. Just because those lives are not your mother or yourself does not mean they are not worth saving. Arrogant twit.

RE: Stop patent trolling and give it to charity?
By messele on 2/25/2012 4:36:20 AM , Rating: 3
You should have spent more time in 6th grade learning to read thoroughly.

Let's recap - saving lives = a good thing (that's the bit where you are an idiot)

Preventing an avalanche of unsustainable new lives = a better cure in the long term.

If it's not malaria that will kill overpopulated, underdeveloped countries it's AIDS or it's some other disease, perhaps one that is yet to be diagnosed, let alone cured).

So here's a radical ideal. How about we take all the education and religion issues that are the root of the overpopulation / disease problem and tackle those? Who said that means not tackling a treatable disease for those that have it?

Saving lives is wonderful. Saving millions of lives without tackling the consequences or addressing the dirty little unthinkable truths is a recipe for disaster.

But it's ok. Carry on living in your insular bubble fantasising about what a wonderful disease-free long-lived world we could have.

RE: Stop patent trolling and give it to charity?
By sigmatau on 2/25/12, Rating: 0
By messele on 2/25/2012 4:09:28 PM , Rating: 3
Again we seem to be missing the bit where words are structured into cohenrant sentences. You cant skim over words just to suit what you've already planned on saying as a reply. Let's make it simple, third time lucky you might get it even if you don't agree with my point of view...

1/ Cure those that are already alive but ill.

2/ Cure future mass sickness by educating people that breeding lots of sick children in the hope that one may survive into adulthood is a bad idea since the odds are self defeating and if by chance they all survive then the population will increase causing massive disease and famine problem. One child = less drain on resources and less chance of mass disease.

If you don't have mass births then aid workers have a chance to get to grips with the disease and mass deaths will eventually be stemmed. Is that so hard to understand?

RE: Stop patent trolling and give it to charity?
By HrilL on 2/24/12, Rating: 0
By teng029 on 2/25/2012 2:34:31 PM , Rating: 2
how about you do what you want with your money and leave others to do what they will with theirs?

"Folks that want porn can buy an Android phone." -- Steve Jobs

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