It's been a while since we've heard Warren Buffett's perspective on Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL ) stock. Yesterday, however, the Oracle of Omaha offered his latest opinion on the highest-profile company in tech: Apple management is doing just fine.
Buffett's opinion on Apple
Buffett has voiced his thoughts on Apple stock several times in the last few years. In 2012, he recounted a time when Steve Jobs called him up for advice on the company's burgeoning cash hoard. After Jobs said he thought Apple's stock was undervalued, trading at about $200 per share at the time, Buffett said, "I would use it for buybacks if I thought my stock was undervalued."
In March of this year, Buffett said Apple should buy back stock and ignore hedge fund manager David Einhorn's advice for a new dividend-paying preferred stock. In April, Apple did indeed announce a massive boost to its share repurchase program and ignored Einhorn's advice. Expanding the company's capital return program to $100 billion, Apple took Buffett's advice and significantly boosted its share repurchase authorization from $10 billion to $60 billion.
Now Buffett is back with his opinion on Apple. "I think the Apple management and directors have done a pretty darned good job of running the company," he told CNBC yesterday when asked for his thoughts on Carl Icahn's suggestion that Apple buy back even more stock. Apple shouldn't worry about Icahn, he seemed to suggest. Taking the idea further, Buffett said: "I do not think that companies should be run primarily to please Wall Street, and largely shareholders who are going to sell. I believe in running Berkshire for the shareholders who are going to stay, and not the ones who are going to leave."
Taking the long view
Given both Warren Buffett's approval of Apple's management and Carl Icahn's bullish outlook on the stock, is the Street's focus on Apple's current issues too shortsighted?
Sure, the iPhone 5c wasn't as cheap as investors expected. Yes, the company's gross profit margin may be down about 700 basis points from the year-ago quarter. But by simply taking a few steps back, Apple looks like a cash cow with a generous share repurchase program and a meaningful dividend yield of 2.5%. Best of all, the stock is incredibly cheap (even at $500), trading at just 12.6 times earnings and just 10.7 times free cash flow.
It's worth noting, however, that neither Buffett nor Icahn are really tech investors. In fact, they're historically tech averse much of the time. Both of their opinions, therefore, should be taken with a grain of salt. But they're both obviously great investors, so their thoughts are worth some consideration. If nothing else, Buffett's approval of Apple management and Icahn's bullishness on the stock help assure long-term Apple shareholders that the company is doing just fine.
What's next for Apple?
Apple has a history of cranking out revolutionary products... and then creatively destroying them with something better. Read about the future of Apple in the free report, "Apple Will Destroy Its Greatest Product." Can Apple really disrupt its own iPhones and iPads? Find out by clicking here.