A number of Google shareholders are asking for the Internet giant to follow in Apple’s footsteps and return part of its $44.6 billion in cash to investors, Bloomberg reported on Thursday. Google has more cash as a percentage of market value than five of its largest competitors, including Apple. The iPhone maker recently reinstated a dividend and unveiled plans for a $10 billion stock buyout last month. Google is currently the only U.S. technology company with a market value of more than $125 billion that doesn’t offer a regular shareholder payout. The Mountain View-based company’s cash has almost doubled since 2009, and it has increased by between $2 billion and $3 billion each quarter. A dividend would ease the tensions between the company and its investors, who have endured a 1.5% decline this year. “There’s a pattern here that makes sense, and I’m sure Google will figure out the right thing to do,” said Michael Holland, chairman of Holland & Co., a New York investment firm that oversees more than $4 billion in assets. “It’s a little bit of a victory dance, if you will, to be able to have the sort of cash surplus that a company like Apple does and Google does. To share some of it is sharing the victory dance.” More →
After five years at Sprint’s helm, CEO Dan Hesse’s effectiveness is being called into question. While Hesse and his team have managed to stall subscriber defection, revenue continues to decline. With flops in Clearwire, WiMAX, LightSquared and a risky $15.5 billion gamble on Apple’s iPhone, Sprint investors fear the CEO may not have what it takes to lead the company against AT&T and Verizon Wireless in an industry that regulators fear has already grown too concentrated. Big investors have voiced strong concerns that the company’s management, led by Hesse, isn’t up to the job, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. Dragos Stefanescu, a director for the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, sharply criticized Mr. Hesse at a lunch meeting in Boston last year, voicing his concerns about Sprint’s complicated network plan. The Journal’s sources, however, claim that the board remains confident in Hesse, though their close watch over every move the CEO makes suggests otherwise. “The board has been stunningly engaged,” one person said. “It sort of has to be because the company’s not doing well.” More →
Sprint on Monday announced that the carrier is issuing another round of notes due in 2017 and 2020 in an attempt to generate approximately $2 billion in capital. The investment would allow Sprint to fund general operations, build out its LTE network and possibly help fund the Clearwire as it continues to struggle. “The company intends to use the net proceeds from the offering of the Notes for general corporate purposes, which may include, among other things, redemptions or service requirements of outstanding debt, network expansion and modernization and potential funding of Clearwire Corporation and its subsidiary Clearwire Communications LLC,” Sprint said. Read on for Sprint’s press release. More →
During the company’s annual shareholders meeting on Thursday, CEO Tim Cook acknowledged that Apple has more money “than we need to run a company.” Apple’s board is currently engaged in “active discussions” about what to do with the $100 billion in cash it has on hand, hinting at the possibility of a dividend. “The board and management team are thinking about this very deeply,” Cook said. A dividend returns a portion of the company’s profit to shareholders, and the last time Apple paid one was in 1995 prior to the return of Steve Jobs. Investors have pushed the company to again pay a dividend, hoping it will boost Apple’s stock price by bringing in a new breed of investors, reports Bloomberg. “You can be assured we are working as hard as ever this year to deliver an incredible year and some products that will blow your mind,” Tim Cook also noted during the meeting. Apple is expected to release a new iPad next month, an HDTV this summer and a redesigned iPhone this fall. More →
Apple took the wraps off of the iPhone 4S today but its stock price dipped by as much as 5% as investors looked to the Cupertino-based company to release a more impressive next-generation smartphone. Fifteen months after last updating its iPhone, investors wanted to see an all new design but instead were met with an incremental update in a case identical to the iPhone 4. It offers a dual-core Apple A5 processor, an improved 8-megapixel camera capable of recording 1080p HD video and Apple’s new voice-based Siri technology, but the iPhone 4S does not offer a completely revamped industrial design, as many had suspected. The iPhone 4S will launch on October 14th and Sprint will join AT&T and Verizon Wireless in offering the phone. Apple’s stock closed down 0.56% on Tuesday.
Research In Motion on Thursday said it would consider splitting its Chief Executive and Chairman roles ahead of its annual shareholder meeting next month. Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis currently each occupy both roles, and the pair have been the targets of much criticism from shareholders, analysts and the media since RIM’s earnings call earlier this month. The company said in a statement that it would assemble a committee of independent directors to study the CEO and board roles, and then make recommendations. The news follows an anonymous plea made by a senior RIM executive that was published exclusively by BGR earlier on Thursday. RIM responded by stating that the company is “in a solid business and financial position to tackle the opportunities ahead,” and that it “is more committed than ever to serving its loyal customers and partners around the world.” RIM’s full press release follows below. More →
Following first-quarter earnings that sent investors and the media into a tizzy, analyst coverage of RIM has been fairly monotone. The consensus? The company is doomed. Sure, there’s been an odd half-hearted vote of confidence here and there, but the majority of analyst coverage we’ve seen has been negative and investors are exiting en masse. In a 45-page report published last Tuesday, however, analysts at Macquarie Capital Markets paint a different picture of RIM’s business. Despite product delays and declining market share, the firm issued an Outperform rating and set a 12-month target on shares of RIM stock at $40. Read on to find out why. More →
That’s not a typo in the title, that’s seventy billion dollars… with a “b”. Reuters is reporting that a group of private investors is looking to offload nearly $1 billion worth of shares they hold in social networking company Facebook. The price per share puts Facebook’s valuation at nearly $70 billion. “The current deal, which includes stock held by Facebook employees, is awaiting approval from top Facebook executives including Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Financial Officer David Ebersman,” writes Reuters. “The sellers have lowered their price after previously trying to offload shares at a price that valued the company at $90 billion, which would make Facebook more valuable than Time Warner Inc and News Corp combined.” Facebook declined to comment on the report. More →
Last month, we reported on the short-term liquidity problems on the horizon for WiMAX network operator Clearwire, and today, the company has announced measures aimed at rectifying its current situation. Clearwire plans to raise over $1.1 billion through the sale of debt securities in “private placement transactions.” As the press release reads:
Clearwire Communications is offering $175.0 million first-priority senior secured notes due 2015, $500.0 million of second-priority secured notes due 2017 and $500.0 million of exchangeable notes due 2040 and will grant the initial purchasers of the exchangeable notes an option to purchase up to an additional $100.0 million of exchangeable notes.
The securities will be offered to “qualified institutional buyers” only and note-holders will be paid-out in either cash or stock once the paper hits maturity. Recently, the “4G” network operator cut close to 15% of its workforce in order to conserve cash.
U.S. wireless provider Sprint — whose WiMAX enabled devices run on Clearwire’s airwaves — owns 54% of the network operator. Sprint declined to comment on the planned sales. More →
Global leader in mobile Nokia, posted their Q2 2010 numbers this morning, and to be honest, they are just okay. The Finnish company posted net sales of €10 billion, which is up 1% year-over-year — but down 4% when adjusted for constant currency — and had net sales of €6.8 billion — which is up 3% year-over-year but again down 2% when adjusted for constant currency. Earnings per share came in at €0.06, down from €0.10 in Q2 of 2010, and Nokia sold a total 111.1 million handsets (it’s odd saying a company sold 111.1 million anythings and had a mediocre quarter). Here is what Nokia CEO, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, had to say about his company’s Q2:
Despite facing continuing competitive challenges, we ended the second quarter with several reasons to be optimistic about our future. For one, the global handset market has continued to grow at a healthy pace, led by some of the less mature markets where Nokia is strong. We are also encouraged by the solid second quarter performance of our Mobile Phones business, helped by an improving line-up of affordable models.
In smartphones, we continue to renew our portfolio. We believe that the Nokia N8, the first of our Symbian^3 devices, will have a user experience superior to that of any smartphone Nokia has created. The Nokia N8 will be followed soon thereafter by further Symbian^3 smartphones that we are confident will give the platform broader appeal and reach, and kick-start Nokia’s fightback at the higher end of the market. More →