Carl Icahn has issued the following letter to his Twitter followers regarding Apple, that begins:
Dear Twitter Followers:
We were pleased to hear Tim Cook yesterday state publicly: “By and large, my view is, for cash that we don’t need – with some level of buffer – we want to give it back [to shareholders]. It may come across that we are, but we’re not hoarders.” This position with respect to excess cash is great news for shareholders, and we look forward to the capital return program update in April, anticipating it will include a large increase to share repurchases.
On August 13, 2013, when Apple was trading at just $66.77, we originally notified our twitter followers of our conversations with Tim Cook and of our request that Apple take advantage of its excess liquidity by repurchasing its dramatically undervalued shares. Despite significant share appreciation over a relatively short timeframe to $122 per share, we believe the same opportunity exists for Apple today. More recently, skeptics (including bullish Wall Street analysts) questioned our financial model’s forecast for robust growth, disclosed in a letter to Tim Cook on October 9, 2014 in which we again urged Apple to increase share repurchases. Since then, we have gained further confidence in our thesis, increasing the forecasted EPS for FY 2015 in our model from $9.60 to $9.70, and now believe the market should value Apple at $216 per share. This is why we continue to own approximately 53 million shares worth $6.5 billion, and why we have not sold a single share.
… When we compare Apple’s P/E ratio to that of the S&P 500 index on the same basis (but without any tax adjustment to the S&P 500 forecasted FY2015 EPS or P/E), we find that the market continues to value Apple at a significantly discounted multiple of only 10x, compared to 17x for the S&P 500. We believe this P/E multiple discrepancy between Apple and the broad market index is totally irrational. It seems to us the market is somehow missing a very basic principle of valuation: when a company’s future earnings are expected to grow at a much faster rate than that of the S&P 500, the market should value that company at a higher P/E multiple. In FY 2016 and FY 2017 we forecast in our model EPS growth of over 20% per year, and if Apple introduces a TV in FY 2016 as we expect, this EPS growth accelerates to over 31% per year in our model. Because of this, we believe the market should value Apple at a P/E of at least 20x, which together with net cash of $22 per share, would value Apple shares today at $216 per share. This is not a future price target. $216 is what we think Apple is worth TODAY. Also, to the extent Apple introduces a TV in FY 2016 or FY 2017, we believe this 20x multiple is conservative.
Read more in the full letter here.