Apple prepares huge bond sale to fund buyback

The company could hold a $17 billion jumbo offering to finance shareholder-friendly initiatives, according to reports.

By Benzinga Apr 28, 2014 5:19PM

The Apple logo is seen on the facade of the Apple Store
 
© Maja Hitu/epa/CorbisBy Tim Parker


You knew it was coming.


Even if the company didn't indicate it on its conference call, after Apple (AAPL) announced a $30 billion increase in its buyback program and an 8 percent increase in its dividend, there was no doubt it would head back to the debt market.


The Financial Times reported Sunday that Apple would hold a $17 billion jumbo bond sale to fund its shareholder-friendly initiatives.


According to Luca Maestri, Apple's incoming finance chief, the company would raise "an amount of term debt financing similar to what we issued in 2013."


Sure, Apple could pay the $41 billion out of its own pocket, but that would dry up its $38 billion in domestic cash and force it to repatriate a portion of its $150 billion of overseas cash at a rate around 35 percent -- far higher than what it would pay to borrow the money from the debt market.

The debt sale will likely target the eurozone, where interest rates are lower than in the United States. According to Maestri, the currencies and breakdown of markets for the bond sale wouldn’t be decided until later this year.


Last year, Apple held a $17 billion bond sale--then the largest debt sale in history. 

Verizon's $49 billion sale later in the year trumped Apple's but if the $17 billion number reported by the FT proves to be low, the sale would become the second-largest.


Why not use at least some of the company's domestic cash? Apple made it clear that it expects some major M&A in its near future. Tim Cook said on the conference call that 

the company was "on the prowl" for more acquisitions.


Investors have wondered why Apple hasn't bought up larger companies than the 24 companies that would be considered small relative to the company's size and cash position.


Apple silenced a lot of its critics when it announced an increase in its share-buyback program, a dividend raise, a 7 for 1 stock split, and an $8 billion reduction in its total cash.


Analysts believe that a new debt sale would be wildly popular, despite the fact that investors who bought the paper in its last sale have lost money. Interest rates have risen sharply since that issuance.


Disclosure: At the time of this writing, Tim Parker was long Apple.


More from Benzinga

7Comments
Apr 29, 2014 11:52AM
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In 5 years-- no one will remember Apple- the business platform. Just the fruit. 
Apr 29, 2014 9:26AM
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Apple phone business is doomed .   The cloud will poise a issue for Apple.    Cheap cloud based phones from others will replace Apple I phones with better features at a lowers cost.    Apple will suffer and bond holders and stock holders are going to see Microsoft take the business away with cloud base phones at a low cost.    Apple will be in debt and have earnings will fall fast.
Apr 29, 2014 7:44AM
Apr 28, 2014 11:08PM
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Goodness I have heard that Apple has a huge anount of money and they are borrowing so if the deal should happen to go south it will be someone else getting stuck. Sounds like Apple doesn't have the confidence to go it alone and take the risk.
Apr 28, 2014 6:49PM
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Great start but Apple could really please stockholders with another big stock split next year.
Apr 28, 2014 5:57PM
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This is smart funding / cash management within a company that has started a long-term decline.

There is no way getting around it.   Stevie is dead and the "professional" management is in charge and they think their business school regression and calculus is going to work in an industry driven by innovation.  The rollouts will no longer be ground breaking and financial shenanigans --- uhhh - I mean engineering, will fill in for those.

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