Listen to (and share) episode 53 of our audio podcast Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman. Deadline’s executive business editor talks with host David Bloom about Carl Icahn’s latest billion-dollar tweet, this one involving a massive Apple share buyback proposal; what’s causing IMAX to stumble; the possible impacts of the federal government shutdown for media & entertainment companies; and Twitter’s now-official IPO and the lessons it might learn from Facebook’s missteps last year.
The stock is up 2.5% in mid-day trading after the billionaire corporate activist turned to Twitter and CNBC to discuss his dinner last night with Apple CEO Tim Cook. Carl Icahn said in a tweet this morning that he had “a cordial dinner with Tim” and “pushed hard” for the stock buyback. “We decided to continue dialogue in about three weeks.” He now controls nearly $2B in Apple stock, and considers a share repurchase “a no-brainer,” he told CNBC. “I can’t promise you the stock will go up and I can’t promise you they will do the buyback. But I can promise you that I’m not going away until they hear a lot more from me concerning this.” The price is right, he says: Apple shares are down 25.9% over the last 12 months as investors questioned whether it can come up with another blockbuster product to rival the iPhone and iPad. In addition, Apple has a lot of cash — although much of it is parked in other countries with unusually low tax rates. Even so, Icahn says Apple can take advantage of today’s low interest rates and borrow money to buy stock.
Listen to (and share) episode 52 of our audio podcast Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman. Deadline’s executive business editor talks with host David Bloom about a proposed FCC rule that may derail the recent TV station gold rush; the very different rush for Apple’s new gold iPhones and all those other colors; themes and memes out of the big Goldman-Sachs investor conference and Blackberry’s really bad quarter and plans to go private with a buyout from minority shareholder Fairfax Holdings.
UPDATE, 9:30 AM: Apple are breaking out their wallet today and breaking good it seems. Just days before Breaking Bad ends forever, the company is refunding the fans over their iTunes purchase of the last episodes of the AMC show. This iTunes $22.99 credit on Apple’s part doesn’t come cheap being that Breaking Bad was one of the most popular TV series on the online store. And it comes over two weeks (see below) after one irate fan began a class action suit against the tech company for its double dipping charges on Season 5 of the drama on iTunes. Back in mid-2012, AMC announced that the final season of Breaking Bad would be split up. However people who had bought a Season Pass to that season of the show on Apple’s music and video service didn’t discover until the second part of the cycle debuted on August 11 this year that they would have to pay another fee on top of their Season 5 Season Pass fee to watch the last 8 episodes. Those shows were now called “The Final Season” on iTunes. Needless to say, the fans were not happy and it looks like Apple or AMC or both heard them loud and clear. Check out the email that Apple sent out today to customers:
We apologize for any confusion the naming of “Season 5″ and “The Final Season” of Breaking Bad might have caused you. While the names of the seasons and episodes associated with them were not chosen by iTunes, we’d like to offer you “The Final Season” on us by providing you with the iTunes code below in the amount of $22.99. This credit can also be used for any other content on the iTunes Store. Thank you for your purchase.
The company has to sell more than 5M iPhones globally to beat the first-weekend record it set last year when it introduced the iPhone 5. And Apple watchers are optimistic that will happen, with estimates ranging from 6M to close to 8M, after seeing the long lines of customers in major markets eager to lay their hands on the latest models: the iPhone 5C and 5S. A 7M-to-8M result appears “doable”, Cowen and Co. analyst Timothy Arcuri says — largely because the new iPhones are available to a broader array of consumers. Unlike last year, people served by T-Mobile and Japan’s DoCoMo can buy the new iPhones on the opening weekend. There’s also China, where customers had to wait 90 days for the iPhone 5 outside of the gray market. Initial sales likely will favor the lower-priced iPhone 5C, the analyst says, estimating that the there are about twice as many units of that model available vs the top-of-the-line (and more expensive) 5S. Apple likely will change the mix in December to favor the 5S leading to combined sales of about 50M.
Listen to (and share) episode 50 of our audio podcast Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman. Deadline’s executive financial editor and host David Bloom take a last, lingering look at who got hurt in the Time Warner-CBS fight and what a new report suggests will be coming in the future;. They also talk about whether The Simpsons is truly the world’s greatest TV asset, even as a little known value investor buys nearly 12 percent of Rupert Murdoch’s other company; buyback fever among media companies hits Disney again this year; and Wall Street’s chilly reception to Apple’s latest iPhone announcements.
Investors continued to hammer Apple after it made clear yesterday that it will continue to try to keep profit margins high on its iPhones, and not release a budget-priced model that might help it expand into developing markets.…
That’s the way things look ahead of tomorrow’s long-awaited product announcement. Just about everybody anticipates two new iPhone models — as well as an updated iOS 7 operating system, and perhaps a Pandora-like Internet music service and a software upgrade for Apple TV — that plug holes in Apple‘s business model but probably won’t dazzle fans who expect the company to dance on technology’s cutting edge. One year after it introduced the iPhone 5, Apple’s iPhone 5S is expected to offer high-end users some modest improvements. It likely will have a more powerful processor, a better camera, fingerprint recognition for security, near field communications, and some new colors. In other words, it will have just enough to reassure iPhone fans that they don’t have to envy Android users who’ll approach the holiday shopping season with several improved choices from manufacturers including Samsung, Motorola, and Sony. But investors will be more interested in the second model, expected to be called iPhone 5C, that Cowen and Co. analyst Timothy Arcuri predicts will be little more than “a glorified iPod Touch with a cellular radio.”
I’ll believe it when I see it. Still, former Wall Street Journal tech journalists Amir Efrati and Jessica Lessin have a lot of people wondering about the possibility this afternoon with a report that the e-retail giant is “considering” just such an offering, citing “people familiar with Amazon’s effort”. They note that the talk involves a phone that consumers could order directly from Amazon without having to sign a multiyear contract with a service provider that would subsidize the device. How would Amazon recoup the $200 or so cost to make the smartphone? The article acknowledges that this is one of many “unanswered questions about the plan and what strings will be attached.” The writers say that Amazon could offer the device to people who pay $79 a year for Amazon Prime, which includes free shipping for some products and access to the company’s video streaming service. They also speculate that Amazon could sell ads and steer smartphone owners “to shop for goods through Amazon.com and to purchase digital media and apps through its app store”.
UPDATE, 2:57 PM: Apple should repurchase $150B worth of its shares after borrowing the funds at an interest rate of 3%, Carl Icahn tells Reuters. ”If Apple does this now and earnings increase at only 10%, the stock — even keeping the same multiple currently — should …
It’s not just the earnings pushing the stock up about 4.3% in post market trading. Investors will be delighted by the higher-than-expected iPhone sales: 31.2M in the quarter vs expectations for about 27M. As for the core financials: …