David Einhorn and Apple (AAPL)

It’s been a long day and I’ve gotten off to a late start.

the proposal

Hedge fund manager David Einhorn, who owns on behalf of his clients (so the internet tells me) over a million AAPL shares, has proposed to the company that it issue a perpetual (meaning it never comes due, and is therefore never redeemed) preferred stock with a total face value of $50 billion, paying a dividend of $2 per year.  The stock would be distributed for free to existing AAPL shareholders.

He’s apparently been discussing this idea with AAPL management since last May.

The proposal is a clever, novel twist on a finance truism   …namely, that if a security is a composite of disparate elements, like growth businesses and value ones, separating the two will increase the valuation of each.

The idea is that if a firm is composed of, say, mobile semiconductor design and cement mixing, growth investors will love the first and hate the second.  The opposite with value investors.  So either group will demand payment, in the form of a lower price earnings multiple, for being forced to take the part they don’t like or want.  Therefore, if you split the two parts up, the multiple on both will rise.

In the AAPL case, the potential split is between a security with earnings growth potential and one solely dependent on income/cash flow generation.

AAPL’s reaction to Einhorn

AAPL’s reaction has been to ask shareholders to vote at the next general meeting to change the company charter to explicitly ban the kind of preferred Einhorn wants.


Einhorn’s reaction to that has been to sue, to seek publicity and to take his own case to shareholders.

my take

The story is nowhere as simple as this.  There’s lots of stuff going on behind the scenes.  Details tomorrow.

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