CUPERTINO, Calif. — Apple CEO Tim Cook sought to assure shareholders Wednesday that the company is working on some “great stuff” that may help reverse a sharp decline in its stock price.
True to Apple’s secretive nature, Cook didn’t provide any further product details during the company’s annual shareholders meeting Wednesday. There has been speculation that Apple is working on an Internet-connected watch or TV, while one shareholder recommended that Apple develop a computerized bicycle. Cook, an avid bicyclist, chuckled at the suggestion, along with the rest of the audience.
Apple’s stock fell $4.40, or 1 percent, to close at $444.57 Wednesday.
The meeting at Apple Inc.’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters was less celebratory than the events in past years, when Apple’s stock price was soaring to the delight and enrichment of its shareholders.
Since hitting an all-time high of $705.07 five months ago, Apple’s stock has plunged by 36 percent. The decline has wiped out collective shareholder wealth totaling $240 billion — an amount that exceeds the total market value of Microsoft Corp., which reigned as the most influential company in personal computing until Apple ushered in an era of more mobile devices with the 2007 release of the iPhone and the 2010 introduction of the iPad.
The agenda for this year’s meeting had been revised because of shareholder unrest. Influential investor David Einhorn, who runs the Greenlight Capital hedge fund, won a court ruling last week that prompted Apple to withdraw a proposal that would have required Apple to gain shareholder approval before issuing preferred stock that could distribute more cash to its stockholders. Einhorn’s fund owns 1.3 million Apple shares.
Cook told shareholders Wednesday that Apple’s board is still exploring what to do with the money, but continued to play down Einhorn’s lawsuit.
“I strongly believe it was a silly sideshow, regardless of how the judge ruled on it,” Cook said.