Investor: Apple in Jobs' shadow

Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal said the time to judge Apple management will be in two years because the next five to six quarters will be mainly the influence of founder Steve Jobs.

"The strength of Steve Jobs is that he established a company that's clearly moving on all cylinders and clicking very well," said Alwaleed, 56, who owns Apple shares.

"For the next five, six quarters, this will be still the legacy of Steve Jobs. I think maybe two years from now, we will see what happens with the new management."

Tim Cook, chief executive of Apple, hasn't signalled any major departures from the strategy laid out by Jobs, who died in October.

The company last month reported the best quarter in its history, with profit doubling to US$13.1 billion ($15.7 billion) on record sales of the iPhone, iPad and Mac computers.

One area where Cook, 51, has demonstrated more flexibility is use of Apple's balance sheet. The company has accumulated US$97.6 billion in cash and investments, money it's "actively" discussing how to use, the company said last month. Jobs had opposed suggestions for a dividend or stock buyback.

Alwaleed said he didn't have an investment in Facebook. The social networking website filed paperwork with the US Securities and Exchange Commission last week to raise US$5 billion in the largest internet initial public offering on record. "Once it goes public, we will evaluate the company and see where it is heading," Alwaleed told CNBC yesterday.

Alwaleed owns a stake in Citigroup, the New York-based bank led by chief executive Vikram Pandit.

The lender, the third-largest in the US by assets, will probably increase its dividend or repurchase shares this year, Alwaleed said. Citigroup's dividend stands at 1c.

"The situation is very promising," said Alwaleed, who owns about 21.8 million Citigroup shares, Bloomberg data show.

- Bloomberg

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