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

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

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