Analysts and pundits regularly state that Apple “needs” to use some of its growing cash pile on major acquisitions. Yahoo recently spent $1.1 billion to acquire Tumblr, Google reportedly spent more than $1 billion on its recent Waze buy… where are the massive Apple deals? As Fortune’s Philip Elmer-DeWitt points out, Apple outspent all other major tech companies by a huge margin last quarter on a major acquisition. What did it buy? Apple.
“By my calculation, the company spent $16 billion last quarter ($4 billion in cash, $12 billion through the so-called accelerated share repurchase program) to purchase 36 million of its own shares at an average price of just over $444,” Elmer-DeWitt wrote, noting that for the same amount of money it could have acquired Nokia, or the company could have spent a third as much to acquire BlackBerry.
Apple announced this past April that is was boosting its massive stock buyback program by $50 billion. A recent regulatory filing stated that about 22 million of the newly repurchased shares were retired last quarter, leaving Apple with 908 million shares outstanding. The rest will be retired in the current quarter.