Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been spending some big money -- more in the last 12 months than in any year before. Going forward, it has more plans to continue spending big. This spending could be one of the best indicators the Apple doom-and-gloom storyline often sported in media headlines may be overrated.
It begins with a spaceship
In November 2013, Apple finally received the final approval for its spaceship-looking Apple Campus 2 project from the Cupertino City Council. The planned headquarters is monstrous. The first phase of construction includes the ring-shaped main building, which is about 2.8 million square feet. It will sport an underground parking facility big enough for 2,400 vehicles, a 100,000 square foot fitness center, and a 120,000 square foot auditorium. It will house 13,000 employees.
The massive headquarters comes at a steep cost, of course. Businessweek pegged Apple's budget for the project at $5 billion and growing -- far more than Apple has spent on any acquisition.
Today, the construction is officially under way. AppleInsider discovered footage of the demolition of the old Hewlett-Packard campus on YouTube yesterday. The video was posted by an unknown user going by the name of Apple Internal. The demolition itself likely occurred last year when Apple received approval to build the campus. The video has been removed due to an Apple copyright claim.
Apple's $40 billion investment
But Apple's biggest spending ever is on itself. In the past 12 months, Apple has bought back more than $40 billion worth of its shares, according to comments by CEO Tim Cook in a February interview with The Wall Street Journal.
"It means that we are betting on Apple. It means that we are really confident on what we are doing and what we plan to do," Cook told WSJ after explaining that Apple bought $14 billion of its own shares in the two weeks after it reported first-quarter results. "We're not just saying that. We're showing that with our actions."
The company has essentially taken about 8.5% of its shares outstanding off the market in the past 12 months. This is why Apple's earnings per share were able to grow 5% from the year-ago quarter in Apple's fiscal 2014 first quarter despite zero growth in net income.
With big spending like this, Apple management undoubtedly believes the company has a bright future. Why wouldn't they? There's no meaningful evidence Apple is facing the beginning of decline anytime soon.
It's a great time to own Apple stock. Not only is there very little (if any) growth priced into the valuation today but Apple is putting its money where its mouth is, buying itself a spaceship and repurchasing shares at an unprecedented scale. But even though short-term catalysts loom, Apple investors are in the fortunate position of knowing that Apple is introducing products in new categories this year.