Apple (AAPL) didn't break any big news at its shareholder meeting Wednesday, but a couple of statements by the company's CEO, Tim Cook, stood out.
The first was Cook's comment that Apple's board and management "don't like" the fact that Apple's stock has crashed.
Apple rarely (if ever) comments on its stock price. So this remark was notable.
Companies don't have many ways to influence their share prices (other than putting up great numbers), but one of the avenues open to Apple is to significantly increase its dividend and return cash to shareholders. I would be surprised if Apple did not take some action on this front in the next few months.
The second comment Cook made is potentially worrisome.
When asked about new product categories that Apple might develop, Cook was quoted by Brent Dirks of AppAdvice as saying the following:
“Obviously we’re looking at new categories — we don’t talk about them, but we’re looking at them."
Cook's refusal to talk about new product categories is not meaningful -- Apple never reveals anything about new products. But Cook's wording might be.
Cook said Apple is "looking at" new product categories. And he said it twice.
This is disctinctly different than the wording Cook has used in the past when asked about new product categories, such as the widely discussed Apple TV. Last December, when asked about new product categories by NBC's Brian Williams, Cook said the following:
"When I go into my living room and turn on the TV, I feel like I have gone backwards in time by 20 to 30 years. It’s an area of intense interest. I can’t say more than that."
That wording seemed to confirm that Apple was on the cusp of releasing a big new TV product, one that would bring the TV experience into the 21st century.
And identifying a problem with TV and saying that it was an area of "intense interest" for Apple makes the product sound a lot more immediate than saying that Apple is "looking at new [product] categories."
(Of course Apple is always looking at new product categories.)
Now, it would be a mistake to attach too much meaning to this. Cook may have been intentionally playing down an imminent new product release, or he may be so sick of answering the question that he just tossed off a dismissive answer.
But the wording stood out.
Meanwhile, Apple's stock dropped modestly after the shareholder meeting and now stands at $445 -- about $10 above a new closing low. At that price, the stock is trading at only 10X trailing earnings, which suggests that the market thinks that Apple's earnings will shrink going forward. So for those who think that Apple is not just "looking at" new product categories, but has fully baked exciting new product categories ready to be released, this level looks cheap.
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