Activist investor Carl Icahn announced yesterday that he's walking away from Dell (DELL), paving the way for Michael Dell to regain control. Icahn's decision ends a battle for the beleaguered computer maker that has raged since March. With an 8.9% stake in Dell estimated to be worth $2.2 billion, Icahn had a lot to win or lose with Dell.
But it seems as if his interests have shifted to another well-known tech company: Apple (AAPL). The billionaire has acquired a $1.5 billion stake in Apple, and is advocating a sizable increase in the company's share buyback program. A larger buyback would increase the company's earnings by reducing the share count.
Now, Dell is tiny compared to Apple. In fact, the market cap of Dell equals just 5% of Apple's market value. One of the few similarities between the companies is that both trade at 13 times this year's earnings. Compared with the S&P 500 index with a P/E multiple of 16, and both companies are undervalued.
But given the possibility of Michael Dell turning the struggling computer maker around or Tim Cook and the Apple team creating new and innovative products, I'll take Apple any day of the week. It looks as if Icahn has placed the Icahn Enterprises (IEP) chips on Apple as well. While I liked Apple a lot around $400, shares remain attractively priced today.
Disclosure: I personally own shares of AAPL.