Activist investor Carl Icahn appears to have met his match in the cargo cult Apple.
Icahn has made a living as an activist investor who sees that a company is underperforming and then buys up enough shares to tell them what to do.
However, his moves to boost Apple have followed the same patterns as those who waste their money on overpriced Apple gear expecting to be part of the cult. Apple has taken his money and ignored him.
Like many who follow the Apple cult he seems to think that Icahn will get a fair hearing if he wastes more money on Jobs’ Mob shares.
Icahn tweeted that he had bought $500 million more shares in the company in just the past two weeks, bringing his investment in the iPhone maker to over $3 billion.
He wants Apple to return more cash to shareholders, Apple has a history of ignoring press inquiries, courts, consumer groups, or anyone else who tells it what to do.
Icahn does not understand why Apple is sitting on a $150 billion cash mountain which could be used to do a huge buyback.
In December, Icahn filed a shareholder proposal with Apple for a much smaller additional stock buyback plan of $50 billion, a major step back from previous demands. Icahn said that reduction came after discussions with unidentified major shareholders of the company.
Now he is trying to provoke a shareholder revolt, forgetting that a huge chunk of shareholders are Apple fanboys who invested because they wanted to throw all their money at Apple and did not have a smart phone to buy that month. They are hardly going to side with Icahn even if he has their financial interests at heart.
Apple points out that it needs ready access to cash in a fast-evolving and competitive mobile devices industry. After all, Apple is losing ground to Samsung and Amazon.com and the Chinese market is not predicted to go well either.
It will be interesting to see who is the most stubborn. Icahn has repeatedly made it clear that he does not oppose Apple’s management. But neither is he going to walk away from his investment. Smart money is on Apple’s board and management winning this fight.