Reuters Stories April 4, 2014

Chinese smartphone vendors disappointed by 5s but eagerly awaiting iPhone 6, says analyst

Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White, quoted in Business Insider, had both bad news and good for Apple in his talks with smartphone vendors during a tour of China and Taiwan, claiming disappointment with sales of the iPhone 5s but big hopes for the iPhone 6.

In the near term, we sensed disappointment around demand for the iPhone 5s.

That said, we heard great enthusiasm around the potential for Apple to introduce a larger iPhone form factor in China this year with the iPhone 6. In our view, the iPhone 6 with a larger screen (e.g., 4.7-inch, 5.5-inch) has the potential to meaningfully accelerate Apple’s growth trajectory in China during 2H:14. We have not heard this type of excitement in China around the iPhone in at least two years and thus we believe this could be a very special iPhone launch for Apple.

White doesn’t have the greatest record of reliability (he’s the guy who told us the Apple television set was launching last year, with an iRing controller), but lower than anticipated iPhone 5s sales does seem consistent with the rather muted comments made by China Mobile chairman Xi Guohua last month.

Reuters Stories February 10, 2014

Carl Icahn withdraws $50B buyback proposal as institutional advisory firms side with Apple [Updated]

Update: Carl Icahn has now withdrawn his proposal in the light of the ISS recommendation against it.

Prominent institutional advisors Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and smaller firm Egan-Jones have both advised shareholders to vote against billionaire investor Carl Icahn’s resolution calling for Apple to buy back an additional $50B of its own stock, reports Reuters.

“(The Apple board) has returned the bulk of its U.S.-generated cash to shareholders via aggressive stock buybacks and dividends payouts,” the ISS report said. “In light of these good-faith efforts and its past stewardship, the board’s latitude should not be constricted by a shareholder resolution that would micromanage the company’s capital allocation process.”

Carl Icahn has been buying large blocks of AAPL stock, with his current holding now totalling around $4.1B, giving him roughly a 1 percent stake in the company. He repeatedly called for increased stock buy-backs by Apple before submitting a formal proposal for a minimum $50B. Stockholders will vote on the proposal on 28th February.

Apple has argued that having large cash reserves gives it flexibility, noting in particular that it may at some stage wish to make a very large acquisition.

“You want to be able to adjust for the long-term interest of the shareholders, not for the short-term shareholder, not for the day trader,” Mr. Cook said. “We may see a huge company tomorrow that we want to acquire or something may happen in the stock market that’s unpredictable.”

ISS did, however, still describe the size of Apple’s cash reserves – which now stand at almost $160 billion – as an “excess,” and said that an urgent resolution was needed.

Apple recently repurchased $14B of its own stock, bringing it to a record $40B over the past year. Tim Cook has stated that it would discuss further buybacks in March/April.

Reuters Stories January 21, 2014

In what is quickly becoming the next big ongoing back and forth between Apple and [insert third party here] of 2014, a new development has unfolded in the antitrust dispute over Apple’s iBooks practices. Michael Bromwich, the external monitor assigned to ensure Apple complies to antitrust laws relating to its iBooks program, has been temporarily removed, Reuters reports, following an “administrative stay” granted to Apple following a recent complaint filed by the Cupertino tech company against the attorney.

expand full story

Reuters Stories January 13, 2014

Following Apple’s formal request last week that Michael Bromwich be removed from his role in ensuring the Cupertino company meets compliances set by the anti-trust ruling in last year’s ebooks trial, the Department of Justice has pushed back (via GigaOm) with a denial letter accusing Apple of ‘character assassination’.

Regrettably, it is now clear that Apple has chosen a campaign of character assassination over a culture of compliance. Apple could have been spending the past months working with the External Compliance Monitor with the ultimate goal of reforming its policies and training, and in the process change its corporate tone to one that reflects a commitment to abiding by the requirements of the antitrust laws. Instead, Apple has focused on personally attacking Mr. Bromwich, and thwarting him from performing even the most basic of his court-ordered functions. expand full story

Reuters Stories January 8, 2014

After earlier complaining that the company was being overcharged by the court-appointed lawyer overseeing its compliance with the terms of the ebooks anti-trust ruling, Apple has now brought matters to a head by asking for Michael Bromwich to be removed from the role, reports Reuters.

An attorney for the consumer technology giant on Tuesday asked U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan to disqualify Michael Bromwich from serving as an external compliance monitor, arguing he had shown a personal bias against the company.

In a letter to Cote, Apple’s lawyer cited a “wholly inappropriate declaration” filed by Bromwich last month …  expand full story

Reuters Stories December 12, 2013

Court rejects Samsung’s attempt to ban Apple devices in South Korea over patent infringement

Reuters is reporting that Samsung’s lawsuit against Apple in South Korea, aiming to ban Apple phones and tablets, has been lost. The case dates back to the patent wars of 2011 where Apple and Samsung sued each for patent infringement other around the world.

Samsung’s claims revolved around messaging and content display. The judge said Apple’s devices do not violate the claims. The court threw out the possibility of a sales ban as well as rejecting damages totalling just under $100,000.

Samsung is currently deciding whether to appeal. Unsurprisingly, Apple was pleased with the decision.

“We are glad the Korean court joined others around the world in standing up for real innovation and rejecting Samsung’s ridiculous claims,” Apple Korea spokesman Steve Park said.

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