The stock is up 2.5% in mid-day trading after the billionaire corporate activist turned to Twitter and CNBC to discuss his dinner last night with Apple CEO Tim Cook. Carl Icahn said in a tweet this morning that he had “a cordial dinner with Tim” and “pushed hard” for the stock buyback. “We decided to continue dialogue in about three weeks.” He now controls nearly $2B in Apple stock, and considers a share repurchase “a no-brainer,” he told CNBC. “I can’t promise you the stock will go up and I can’t promise you they will do the buyback. But I can promise you that I’m not going away until they hear a lot more from me concerning this.” The price is right, he says: Apple shares are down 25.9% over the last 12 months as investors questioned whether it can come up with another blockbuster product to rival the iPhone and iPad. In addition, Apple has a lot of cash — although much of it is parked in other countries with unusually low tax rates. Even so, Icahn says Apple can take advantage of today’s low interest rates and borrow money to buy stock.
The company has about 908M shares; at yesterday’s closing price of $476.75 Icahn’s proposal would reduce the pool of outstanding stock by about a third. Icahn urged Cook not to worry so much about Apple’s directors. “The board is not appointed by God. They don’t have the divine right of kings.” Icahn also talked up Netflix, where he’s also a major investor. “The money’s flowing in….The model, I hope, is going to grow in foreign countries.” Apple “is sort of where Netflix was when it was $58.” Netflix closed yesterday at $309.21. It’s +3.4% today and +472% over the last 12 months.