Carl Icahn gives up on Apple stock buyback plan

February 10
MARKETS
Icahn gives up on Apple buyback plan

Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn has backed off from his months-long campaign urging Apple to increase its stock buybacks, citing the company’s recent repurchases and an influential proxy adviser’s call against his proposal.

In a letter to Apple shareholders Monday, Icahn wrote that he was ditching his nonbinding proposal to force Apple to add $50 billion to its stock
buyback plan, “especially when the company is already so close to fulfilling our requested repurchase target.”

On Sunday, Institutional Shareholder Services recommended that shareholders vote against Icahn’s nonbinding proposal, saying the motion would “micromanage” how the company uses capital.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook told the Wall Street Journal last week that the iPhone and iPad maker had repurchased $14 billion in stock in the two weeks since reporting financial results that disappointed Wall Street.

With the latest purchases, Cook recently said, Apple had bought back more than $40 billion of its shares over the past 12 months.

— Reuters

FEDERAL RESERVE
Anticipation high for Yellen’s testimony

When Janet L. Yellen makes her first public remarks Tuesday since succeeding Ben S. Bernanke as Federal Reserve chair, her every word will come under scrutiny.

Will she embrace all of Bernanke’s policies? When will the Fed raise short-term interest rates? Is she worried about the economy or the stock market?

Don’t expect many direct answers when Yellen addresses a House Financial Services Committee hearing. Her replies will most likely boil down to a single overarching point: The Fed will keep all its options open, depending on how the economy evolves.

Even so, anticipation of Yellen’s testimony is running high. After a rocky start to 2014, nervous investors will be paying particularly close attention. They want to know whether Yellen will deviate from the message the Bernanke Fed sent late last year that Fed officials think the economy’s outlook is bright enough to withstand a slight pullback in their stimulus but that rates should stay low to fuel a still-subpar economy.

The occasion is the Fed’s twice-a-year report to Congress on interest-rate policy and the economy. After Tuesday’s House hearing, Yellen will address the Senate banking committee on Thursday.

— Associated Press

Also in Business

The price of the digital currency Bitcoin slid to its lowest level in nearly two months Monday after Bitcoin digital marketplace Mt. Gox said a halt on withdrawals it announced Friday would continue indefinitely after it detected “unusual activity.” The price of Bitcoin tumbled as much as 21 percent to $535.55 before recovering to $664.75, according to the CoinDesk Bitcoin Price Index, which averages prices from exchanges. The index value was more than $780 before Mt. Gox announced the withdrawal halt.

Kraft is removing artificial preservatives from its most popular individually wrapped cheese slices, the latest sign that companies are tweaking recipes as food labels come under greater scrutiny. The change affects the company’s Kraft Singles in the full-fat American and White American varieties, which Kraft says account for the majority of the brand’s sales. Sorbic acid is being replaced by natamycin, which Kraft says is a “natural mold inhibitor.”

Commercial pilots have attempted to land at the wrong airport more often than most passengers realize or government officials admit, according to an Associated Press search of government safety data and news reports since the early 1990s. On at least 150 flights, including a Southwest Airlines jet last month in Missouri and a jumbo cargo plane last fall in Kansas, U.S. commercial passenger and cargo planes have landed at the wrong airport or started to land and realized their mistake in time.

German tire and auto-parts maker Continental has agreed to buy U.S. private-equity investor Carlyle Group’s Veyance Technologies, which once belonged to its rival Goodyear, for $1.9 billion. Veyance, which employs 9,000 workers at 27 plants worldwide producing industrial hoses and belting, will be integrated into the German company’s Contitech division.

A multi-agency government task force looking into cyberattacks against Target, Neiman Marcus and other retailers said that it has not come across evidence suggesting the attacks are a coordinated campaign to adversely affect the U.S. economy. In a two-page report, the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force saidthe global implications of the retail attacks and the economic impact on private business and individual citizens cannot be overstated. The report is the combined effort of the FBI, Secret Service, intelligence agencies and the Department of Homeland Security.

Apple, which faces as much as $840 million in state and consumer antitrust claims stemming from an electronic-books lawsuit, lost its bid to halt oversight by a court-appointed compliance monitor. A federal appeals court in New York denied Apple’s request that it temporarily block the activities of the monitor, Michael Bromwich, while the company appeals a July order by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan. Apple challenged the monitor, imposed by Cote after she concluded after a non-jury trial in July that Apple schemed with publishers to limit retail price competition and raise e-book prices.

— From news services

COMING TODAY

10 a.m.: Federal Reserve Chairman Janet L. Yellen testifies before the House Financial Services Committee.

Earnings: CVS Caremark.

PHILANTHROPY

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