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En qué usará Apple su “efectivo”? Ideas al respecto en Fortune Tech:

One of the things that’s keeping Apple’s market cap from overtaking Exxon Mobil’s — besides Steve Jobs’ health problems and the world’s unquenchable thirst for petroleum products — is the fear that the company will do something stupid with the nearly $60 billion in cash and marketable securities that seems to be burning a hole in Wall Street’s pocket.

The Street has made it abundantly clear what it thinks Apple should do with that cash: Declare a dividend or launch a stock repurchase program or both — anything to drive up the value of institutional investors’ Apple holdings.

One thing he talked about was the $3.9 billion dollars worth of agreements Apple signed over the summer and fall with three unnamed companies in its supply chain. The money came in the form of prepayments and capital expenditures for process equipment and tooling — for building factories, in other words — for components he declined to specify but which most observers suspect are touchscreens like those used in the iPad.

The deal, he said, is similar to the one Apple cut five years ago:

“As you probably remember,” he began, “we signed a deal with several flash [memory chip] suppliers back at the end of 2005 that totaled over $1 billion because we anticipated that flash would become increasingly important across our entire product line and increasingly important to the industry. And so we wanted to secure supply for the company.

“We think that that was an absolutely fantastic use of Apple’s cash.”