Eat and tweet: Icahn dishes on dinner with Apple CEO Tim Cook

Activist investor Carl Icahn wants a heaping helping -- $150 billion -- of stock buyback from Apple.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET/Twitter

Carl Icahn's dinner with Tim Cook may end up costing Apple $150 billion.

No, it's not the dishes that were expensive, but rather the share buyback program that Icahn proposed.

After dining with Apple's CEO, the activist investor recounted the evening in a short tweet on Tuesday: "Had a cordial dinner with Tim last night. We pushed hard for a 150 billion buyback. We decided to continue dialogue in about three weeks."

Apple already has a share buyback plan in the works. In April, the company said that it would repurchase $60 billion worth of stock , up from the $10 billion announced last year. Apple said it expects to complete that buyback by the end of 2015.

But the number isn't high enough for Icahn. As a major Apple investor (he reportedly owns between $1.5 billion and more than $2 billion of Apple stock), he believes a more aggressive buyback would benefit both Apple and its stockholders .

Assuming Apple's stock is undervalued, a strong buyback program would reward Apple as the shares rise. A hefty buyback also would reduce the number of outstanding shares and trigger a revival in the stock price, Icahn has argued.

Apple has stated that its current plan is appropriate and that it doesn't anticipate increasing the amount. However, Icahn has a history of playing an active and often aggressive role in the companies whose stock he owns. He could very well use his power of persuasion to convince Cook to spend more money.

In an appearance Tuesday morning on CNBC, Icahn called a $150 billion share buyback a "no-brainer" and said "it makes no sense for this company with their multiple being so low not to do a major major buyback."

Icahn also said that Cook hopefully will discuss the proposal with Apple's board of directors. But he threw in a couple of digs against that same board.

"My philosophy is that boards aren't this royal group of people," Icahn said. "[The conversation] might have gotten a little testy because the CFO was also there, the board wanted to do $60 billion (in stock buybacks). The board is not God. The board, in this kind of a case, should be listening to what the shareholders want."

We should learn more once the two men meet up again in a few weeks.

There's just one burning question Icahn didn't address in his tweet: Who picked up the check?

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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