Why did Apple buy a lot of stock high, then stop buying low in December?

“Apple Inc. remained aggressive in buying back its stock when momentum was strong, and prices held above the $200 mark, but when the going got tough for investors, Apple was nowhere to be found,” Tomi Kilgore writes for MarketWatch.

Apple “spent $8.24 billion repurchasing 38,024,000 shares during its fiscal first quarter ended Dec. 29, at what amounted to a weighted average price of $216.61. That compares with the $19.44 billion Apple spent to buy back 92,463,000 shares, at a weighted average price of $210.32, during the sequential September quarter,” Kilgore writes. “31,343,000 shares were bought from Sept. 30 to Nov. 3, at an average price of $219.71; and 6,681,000 shares were repurchased from Nov. 4 to Dec. 1, at an average price of $202.07.”

“Then from Dec. 2 to Dec. 29, when stock tumbled 12% during the month, and closed at a 17-month low of $146.83 on Dec. 24, there were zero shares repurchased,” Kilgore writes. “On the post-earnings conference call with analysts… Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri [said] Apple always strives to execute share repurchases ‘in an efficient, effective, I would say disciplined manner,’ taking into account overall market conditions… ‘So that’s what we did during the course of the December quarter.’ Does that mean Maestri believed Apple was being ‘effective’ and ‘disciplined’ by buying high, and not buying low?”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: So, Apple had a plan for the year and they stuck with that plan despite the compelling urge they might have had to back up their prodigious truck in December. We’re not sure how “effective” or “efficient” that was, but it certainly was disciplined.

We couldn’t match that level of restraint due to salivating all over the place while AAPL was on sale for such an obviously deep discount.

5 Comments

  1. Groan… I was hoping the next time I see a drop in share count it would be at around 4.5 billion shares. Apple should have doubled-down when given such an opportunity to buy cheap. The way Wall Street was tearing apart Apple I was hoping Apple was going to have the last laugh by hugely reducing share count to make those all those know-it-all analysts look downright stupid.

    Why Apple wouldn’t have been buying at that low amount makes no sense to me. Maybe Apple thought the share price was going to go even lower? I guess we’ll never know for certain. I’m sure I’d heard Apple has around $240B in cash, so if Apple isn’t going to spend that money on acquisitions, then they should buy back such cheap Apple stock at every chance they get. That’s the only way to get back at Wall Street when they put Apple stock into a downward tailspin.

  2. Some others assert that Apple’s “discipline” to NOT buy when at low, was to skirt possible accusations of market manipulation…since Apple announced iPh “trouble” in that timeframe.

    1. Agreed – Apple would have known that sales of the iPhone were down at that stage so may been prevented from taking advantage of the stock drop. They could not announce any warning until the end of the quarter because they would have not been able to provide an accurate revenue estimate until then.

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