Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s cash hoard has been the topic of much debate in recent weeks, but today Jefferies analyst Peter Misek said the tech giant just might need it to weather some upcoming storms over the next few years. CEO Tim Cook sidestepped the issue at Wednesday’s annual shareholder meeting.
Misek indicated four major issues Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) may have to deal with in the next couple of years that could make the $137 billion in cash come in handy: movement into emerging markets, especially India, decelerating iPhone sales internationally, capital expenditures and what he called “white box smartphones.”
According to Misek, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s capital expenditures could double over the next two years, which would add $10 billion to the company’s bottom line. For example, the company might have to pay to upgrade its suppliers’ chip fabrication factories because the suppliers just don’t have the cash to do it. Also Apple’s iCloud centers could push the company’s capital expenditures higher.
In addition, Cook himself has said the company is pushing aggressively into emerging markets, especially China and India. India’s mobile users are mostly prepaid subscribers, which means Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has something else it will have to spend money on. If the company doesn’t push into those emerging markets then its lagging international iPhone sales will continue to do it harm.
And then there’s the issue of what Misek calls “white box smartphones,” which are basically the low-cost devices that are already targeting emerging markets. These devices are giving Apple a run for its money, literally, as it invests in a device that can compete on the same level of those devices.
Misek also addressed Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s cash hoard directly. He said he expects the company to double its dividend and stock buyback or to accelerate the plan it already has. That’s in contrast to David Einhorn, who has been pressing the tech giant to issue perpetual preferred stock.