Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) lost the lawsuit filed by hedge fund manager David Einhorn over Proposal #2, which he believes would bar the company from offering preferred stock, or as he calls it, iPrefs.
But will the company take his proposal for preferred stock? According to one Wall Street Journal contributor, probably not.
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The crux of Einhorn’s lawsuit was that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) had bundled together more than one shareholder proposal. Federal regulators don’t allow that, so the judge ruled in favor of Einhorn. As a result, Apple’s board of directors would have to be the ones to decide whether to issue preferred stock, but it’s pretty obvious that if the board wanted to do that, shareholders would approve.
So why is it so unlikely that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s board will follow Einhorn’s iPrefs plan? On the surface, it does look like his plan would unlock shareholder value, as most investors would agree needs to be done. However, at this point, Wall Street Journal contributor Ronald Barusch believes that Apple’s board is more focused on the value of the company over the long-term rather than unlocking shareholder value right now.
Barusch believes that the board sees issuing preferred stock right would limit their flexibility in the future as their long-term plan for the company unfolds. Einhorn’s presentation last week claimed that the issuance of preferred stock wouldn’t interfere with anything Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) wants to do because the tech giant could use its cash flow to pay the dividends without even dipping into its enormous $137 billion cash pile.
However according to Barusch, it does limit the company’s future plans because it ties up a significant portion of its future cash flow in dividends. Einhorn himself even said that if his plan does become fully implemented, Apple would need to use part of its domestic cash to cover it.
But you’ve got to ask just what Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s executives have up their sleeves? You’ve also got to consider what they might do in the future. In Barusch’s view, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) might be better off unlocking value for shareholders in a way that doesn’t commit future cash to perpetual dividend payouts.