Ralph Nader Again Assails Apple’s Stock Repurchases

The longtime consumer advocate, in a new interview, said that Apple could have spent its money on hiring, retrenching or intensified recycling programs, rather than for stock buybacks.

Consumer Advocate Ralph Nader, in a new interview for the weekend, reiterated some points an open letter that he sent to Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook in May.

In the interview with Saturday NPR weekend edition, Nader suggested other things Apple could have done with its cash surplus.

Nader initially criticized Apple for executing its $100 billion stock repurchase in May without seeking their prior notice to shareholders.

“It could have been used to increase the employees,” Nader said. “It could have been used to strengthen the pension fund – it could have been used – two percent to double the income of serf workers, 1.3 million Chinese workers in the contractor who builds the iPhones.

“It could be two percent of the $ 100 billion to improve the recycling of used computers and phones, which endanger the environment and the workers,” Nader said. “It could have been invested in productive investments, it could have been invested in research and development, it could have been sent in cash to the shareholders, but no.”

When interviewer Scott Simon asked him what he thought of Apple’s return from the “near extinction” of the mid-1990s to its status as the most valuable company in the world, Nader was less impressed.

“There is no doubt that the turnaround is remarkable,” Nader said. “But under Steve Jobs, share buybacks were banned. He paid very little. When Tim Cook arrived, everything changed. And they know how to win a lot of money. money with their iPhones overpriced, they do not know how to use it. ” Marxists decades ago would never have imagined that companies would seize all this capital and could not use it productively.

Nader, who is 84, continued to tell Simon that he did not own any Apple products. “First, I want to do a day of work, so I’m not involved in email or any of this nonsense,” he added, he still uses a typewriter.

Some of Nader’s points about Apple are more defensible than others. There is certainly a legitimate debate about whether stock repurchases constitute the best use of Apple’s cash and whether companies are responsible when they distribute their profits in this way. And it’s certainly true that the workers in China who make Apple products deserve better pay than they perceive, although, as Nader points out, they are employees of subcontractors rather than Apple. himself.

On the other hand, companies like Apple do not usually ask for shareholder permission before carrying out share buybacks. Apple’s spending priorities are far from the same, and most of the things Nader wants Apple to spend money on are things she spends a lot of money on.

Apple spends an astronomical sum – more than $  billion just in the second quarter of this year – on R & D. They hire new employees all the time, and open new offices and facilities throughout the country. Apple has also significantly scaled up its recycling programs, especially compared to the early years of the company.

While Steve Jobs was paying $ 1 a year for much of his time at Apple, he also controlled a lot of stocks and was worth billions at the time of his death. The fact that Tim Cook has not delivered anything to Apple in addition to the huge profits he has earned is utterly unfair to the many achievements of the CEO since his arrival in 2011.

Compsmag