Apple buys back $14 billion of its stock

Apple has repurchased $14 billion of its stock in the two weeks after its first-quarter financial results and second-quarter revenue outlook disappointed investors.

Its shares rose 1.4 percent, to $519.68 on Friday.

Apple bought $12 billion of the shares through an accelerated repurchase program and $2 billion on the open market, the company confirmed.

Late Thursday, Apple chief executive Tim Cook said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that the company was “surprised” when its stock dropped 8 percent the day after its earnings report and revenue outlook. He told the newspaper he wanted to be “aggressive” and “opportunistic.”

In the past year, Apple’s shares have started losing some ground because of concerns about slowing growth and increasing competition. Its $14 billion stock buyback signals the company remains confident in its business.

This is good news for investors, including Carl Icahn. The billionaire activist investor has been pressing Apple to boost its share repurchases. Last month, Icahn raised his stake in Apple, revealing on Twitter that he had put another $500 million into Apple stock. He already owned about 4.7 million Apple shares worth more than $2.5 billion.

Icahn has said he wants the Cupertino, Calif.-based company to spend $50 billion buying back its own stock during the current fiscal year ending in September.

“Keep buying Tim!” Icahn implored in a message posted Friday on his Twitter account. His tweet also noted that Apple still should have about $145 billion in cash even after the company’s recent investment spree.

— Associated Press

Firm works to divert toxic runoff in N.C.

Duke Energy said it is diverting the flow of coal ash from reaching a North Carolina river, but the Charlotte-based company cannot yet declare the massive spill fully contained nearly a week after it was first discovered.

Company spokeswoman Meghan Musgrave said Friday that engineers at the Dan River Steam Station in Eden have designed a containment system that is capturing nearly all of the toxic runoff and pumping it back into a storage basin.

The nation’s largest electricity provider said up to 82,000 tons of coal ash mixed with 27 million gallons of contaminated water have escaped since a drainage pipe running under a 27-acre waste pond collapsed Sunday, turning the river gray for miles.

Officials 20 miles downstream in Danville, Va., said they are successfully filtering arsenic, lead and other toxins from drinking water.

— Associated Press

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