Mihir A. Desai, New York Times:
Sure, Apple produces innovative phones and laptops, but look inside its sleek exterior and you’ll find an elegant financial machine that has become the ideal for corporate America. Without investing significantly in hard assets, Apple spins cash and returns it to shareholders at a stunning rate. It’s difficult not to admire.
Six years ago, the company owed no debt and had never undertaken a share buyback or paid dividends. Pressured by a shareholder revolt in 2013, it is now transformed.
Apple has conducted its buybacks responsibly: It bought shares when they were relatively cheap, rewarding the patient shareholder. Other companies have not been so prudent, taking on debt to make ill-timed purchases of expensive shares rather than investing in growth opportunities. In some cases, they have done so simply to push up share prices so that management can meet goals for quarterly earnings or metrics that trigger compensation.
Good read. Apple is truly a remarkable company.