Anytime,you want to change an existing situation it helps a lot if you look at and understand who benefits the most from the current situation.
So in this current sceanario,who benefits the most (with this Cash pile which supposedly can be utilized very quickly to do great things by Apple)???
For this,you need to look at the Compensation structure of senior-most Apple Executives.
Most of them are paid a disproportionate amount of their salaries in Stock options.
Now think about it,would these Stock options have more value if the stock was supported by more Cash behind it(on the Company Balance sheet) or less???
Obviously,the stock options have more value if they are supported by more cash behind them.After all,when the senior execs excercise those options(this is what Steve Jobs always did) ;they never held the stock,just dumped it on the market.
The market consisting of hardly any original ideas and is just one momentum chaser after another,grabbed the stock without wondering ;If Apple is such an awesome company ,why don't Senior Execs hold onto the stock???
Obviously there are other beneficiaries as well-Like The Overseas Tax havens where Apple has stored all this cash and Tax Consultants & Lobbyists.
But the biggest beneficiaries are obviously senior management.
You have to follow the money to get to the bottom of the matter.
Which is why I was suggesting Lobbying for a Total re-vamp of the Tax code.
We need a Flat Tax of no more than 18% with No Exemptions/Tax-breaks,etc for all Corporations.
As has been proven quite decisively in the case of both Oil& Gas companies as well as Solar companies-Subsidies don't help the market one bit.[Oil & Gas companies continue to make record profits and Solar companies continue to go bust-Solyandra & Ener1 come straight to mind].
I know you may disagree with the Number(18%) I talk about here.But most corporations today anyways pay much-much less than number.[Which is why you see today that Personal Income Tax reciepts have surprassed the number paid by Corporations at the Federal Level].This flat tax will just enable them to come clean entirely.
While I don't think its fair that American Companies should be taxed at all on their overseas Incomes(just like I think its beyond stupid that American Citizens working anywhere in the world have to pay Personal Income Taxes to Uncle Sam]... One cannnot ignore budgetary realities.Currently America is running a Gigantic Deficit and the numbers are just spiralling totally out of control;in that sceanario America needs to pull in as much Tax revenue from as many sources as is possible.
This is just one case where this policy has gone totally wrong and further antaogonized a new Generation of Americans
TaimoorZ, If there's no commercial or profit benefit from a space program or any other program for that matter most companies won't get involved notwithstanding the amount of unneeded cash they have floating around. The same applies to Apple. It's in this for the money and even in philathropy, you can expect the company to always be on the lookout for how it can get its image burnished. As Pasquale Pistorio, the legendary former CEO at STMicroelectronics used to say, "you can do good by doing good."
Ashish, You are right. A major part of the cash held by companies like Apple is in accounts outside the US and the companies don't want to bring this back because of the likelihood they will pay a high tax on it. The current tax code exempts US-based companies from paying taxes on these funds as long as they are held in offshore accounts and as long as the companies can claim they are holding the money for possible reinvestment.
Should the US government simply cave and allow them to repatriate the funds at a lower tax rate? The government did this before and Microsoft at the time paid out over $30 billion. That's the way it works but is this right? Apple made the profit both in the US and outside and like other companies it is using the benefits of the current tax code to avoid paying tax on the money.
The company can use this to pressure Congress to pass a special law that allows them to bring the funds in at a low tax rate but this again would be another example of what is wrong with US tax laws. How soon before Apple builds up another cash heap and then start asking for another tax holiday? Is this really the best solution or a stop-gap measure until they find themselves in the same position?
You pinpointed some very useful ways in which the Cash pile Apple sits on today can be utilised.But you missed one very crucial fact-Why are Tech Giants like Apple,Microsoft,Google,Oracle,IBM,HP,Cisco,Intel,etc,etc sitting on Billions and Billions of Dollars of Cash???
This is not something which is new or just a one,two year phenomenon.
Also,where is this cash held?
For those not in the know this cash is held in Offshore Tax havens like Bermuda
And these are part of these companies overseas earnings(money made outside of the US),which will not come back to the US unless there is a revamp of the Tax-code or a one-time Tax Holiday.
Thing is as things stand,if companies bring that money home to the US Today and uses it to disburse dividends the tax-rate would be very,very high(Over 30%).And which self-respecting company(who can hire the best and brightest lawyers in the world)wants to pay such a gigantic amount in Taxes???
So the question comes back-How about using some of those Billions to Lobby congress for a re-vamp or better still- A Flat Tax code???
It's good to know that Apple is strategically seeking ways to better use its cash piles.
This is what Peter Oppenheimer Apple's Chief financial officer said " we are actively discussing the best usage of our cash balance"
Who knows whether many of the suggestions raised here might come in handy, when the company finally arrive at a decision on how to best use its cash. Well, I think the company is loudly saying, we are in control of our cash surpluses and will dispense of it when and if necessary. Rightly so too. So lets wait and see what Apple comes up with.
"Do you really see a philanthropy culture or one that aspires to change our world along the lines you discussed?"
Interesting suggestion by Blakeredfield. I do agree that it may be a good idea to invest into something as diverse as space exploration programs. I don't think these would really come under philanthropy. There are ways Apple can derive commercial value out of these in the long-run.
I would like see Apple dole out its fund on options 2 and 4 suggested. Securing supply chain could save Apple lot of hassles. As well, acquiring new innovation may pretty spur things up - cloud computing ( data center ) i dont think venturing into this sector is bad.
Investing a fraction of the huge cash in developing markets like south America and Africa may boost Apple's presence in those areas.
I think No.2 and No.3 would be really good since I feel that Apple is in a very crucial stage where they need to focus a bit more than they used to do. Once they secure their place they can look in to No.4 and strengthen their share.
EBN Dialogue enables and encourages you to participate in live chats with notable leaders and luminaries. Not only editors and journalists, but the entire EBN community is able to comment and ask questions. Listed below are upcoming and archived chats.
Thailand Stages a Comeback Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Microsoft Surface: Potential Winners & Losers What are the implications for the electronics industry supply chain of Microsoft Corp.'s decision to launch its own tablet PC? Join industry veteran and EE Times' systems and OEM expert Rick Merritt on Tuesday, July 3, at 12:00 pm EDT for a Live Chat on this subject.
Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Peter Drucker famously said "Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window." Yet in the razor's-edge world of electronics—with a lean supply chain and just-in-time demands—the need to know the future is vital.
While no one really can accurately predict the future, we can take guidance from another Drucker saying which is the best way to predict the future is to create it.
You've heard the saying "the No. 1 supply chain risk is your people." That hasn't always been the case. But today's complex global supply chain requires a new type of multitalented employee. It's one who understands, finance, marketing, economics, is savvy with technology, graceful with relationships and can think analytically.
Where are these people? Are universities properly preparing the next generation supply chain professionals? How do train your existing workforce for these new, demanding positions?
Brian Fuller, editor-in-chief of EBN, will lead a 60-minute Avnet Velocity panel discussion that will ask and answer these and other questions swirling around today's supply-chain talent challenges.