I've written a couple of previous articles claiming that Carl Icahn wants nothing more out of his Apple (AAPL) stake than to make a ton of money. Notably, my tastefully titled article "Icahn Looks to Score on Dinner Date with Apple's Cook". In that article I argued that Icahn is looking for the proverbial "wham bam thank you ma'am" and that he doesn't care about Tim Cook, he doesn't care about the products, and he certainly doesn't care about or respect the corporate culture or well being of the Apple in the long term.
By now everyone in the world knows that Carl Icahn has taken a position in Apple, one that he admitted adding to again on Thursday. And, kids, what did we learn that people with enormous positions in companies want from a company they invest in?
That's right: they want the company to do everything in its legal power to make the stock go up, right here, right now, without any questions being asked.
As one Seeking Alpha commenter put it on Thursday, "there are very few people in the world that can tell Carl Icahn to take a hike. Tim Cook is one of them. He should issue more shares in spite of Icahn."
While I don't agree with issuing more shares simply to make a point and realize that this was gross exaggeration for comedic effect, who the hell does Carl Icahn think he is? I mean sure, we all know about his great track record and lifetime of investing success; but, it's starting to appear that he's become mad with power and is simply losing his mind.
Right from the get-go, I knew that Icahn had bad intentions with Apple, calling his immediate push for another buyback a big "wrong" in an article I wrote immediately after Icahn disclosed his stake in the company:
Asking for a bigger buyback immediately after Apple announced the biggest stock buyback in market history isn't really a great move right off the bat. It's nice that Carl wants more shareholder value from the company, but with Apple recently taking on its debt position and offering a buyback with increased dividend, the company shouldn't feel pressured to tend to Icahn's requests immediately and shareholders might be disappointed when Apple chooses not to honor Icahn's somewhat greedy request immediately.
The argument was that Apple had already just issued a major buyback and was taking on debt for the first time. Due to those two items, now is not the time to get insane and dole out a $150 billion buyback. The company needs to keep its firm foundation, as its the thesis for many bullish arguments on the company in the long term.
Sure, he's the billionaire, but he's not big enough to push around the $1 trillion beast that is Apple, and especially not Tim Cook.
As I argued when this first came up, Tim Cook and Peter Oppenheimer can do well to keep my respect by firmly but politely thanking Icahn for his support, promising to try and deliver him the same shareholder value that they're trying to deliver everyone else, and telling him the same thing the CFO told analysts while recalibrating them several quarters ago: that at the end of the day, Oppenheimer and Cook run this company, not analysts or investors.
Tim Cook has no options. If he caves in to Icahn's request here, he's officially lost his spine, and will lose the respect of millions of Apple investors and followers everywhere. If they avoid Icahn's request, he's likely to stay in the stock, turn a profit, then leave and badmouth Cook. At the end of the day, Icahn risks looking like an ass more than Cook does if Cook holds his ground firmly.
I said it once, and I'll say it again : what would Steve Jobs say to Carl Icahn? Answer in the comments below.
Best of luck to all investors.