Apple Inc. CFO Oppenheimer To Retire: What It Means

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Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer announced his retirement this week after ten years in the role. In all, he has spent 18 years at the company, during which the company grew very rapidly, entered new product categories and created plenty of wealth for both employees and investors.

Analysts not surprised at Oppenheimer’s retirement

Shares of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) didn’t really respond much to news of the executive’s retirement, probably because it doesn’t come as a huge surprise, in spite of the fact that he’s still in his lower 50s. According to Apple, he is resigning for personal reasons, but we already know that he won’t be completely uninvolved with the investment community. Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:GS) also announced this week that he would be joining its board of directors effective immediately.

The selection of Luca Maestri to take over the reins from Oppenheimer isn’t really much of a surprise either as it seems like he was next in line for the role. Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White believes that his hiring at Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) about a year ago was “a clear sign” that he was going to replace Oppenheimer. Maestri has 25 years of experience in various senior financial management roles. He is also known for being quite shareholder friendly.

Looking back on Oppenheimer’s time at Apple

White notes that while Oppenheimer was Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s CFO, its stock rose by about 3,660%, and is sales increased by 40% per annum to $171 billion in the 2013 fiscal year. Apple’s earnings per share also rose, climbing 68% per year, and its free cash flow increased from less than $800 million a year to more than $45 billion. The result of that was aggregate free cash flow of almost $165 billion during his tenure as CFO. In addition, he points out that under his watch, Apple began a major share repurchasing program and started paying out a “healthy cash dividend.” He believes Oppenheimer will be missed by both Apple and the “investment community.

JPMorgan analysts Mark Moskowitz and Mike Kim also believe Peter Oppenheimer leaves behind a strong infrastructure in financial management. They also don’t think it’s a surprise that he has left and see Maestri’s joining Apple a year ago as a signal that he would be Oppenheimer’s successor.

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