Apple expanding finance department

Karen Haslam
15 January, 2013
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Apple has hired Xerox’s Chief Financial Officer in a move that some believe will see the company increase the dividend payment to shareholders, or even facilitate a share repurchase increase. The hire may also suggest that the company is preparing its finance team to fill the void left should 50-year-old Peter Oppenheimer leave the company.

Luca Maestri is to leave his post as CFO of Xerox at the end of February to become corporate controller of Apple. While this looks like a demotion, some reports indicate that Maestri is likely to eventually replace Peter Oppenheimer.

Piper Jaffrey analysts Gene Munster doesn’t think that Oppenheimer will leave “any time soon”, however, notes WSJ. Nor does Munster think this is a demotion for Maestri: “There’s a lot of financial work to be done”. The controller role at Apple is “a better job”, he said.

An Apple spokesperson told the WSJ that it is “thrilled” with the new hire.

Barclays Ben Reitzes describes Maestri as a “champion of shareholder return,” hence the expectations of a greater dividend or a buy back program.

Apple has a sizable cash horde, at last count it was US$121.25 billion – that’s a US$40 billion increase in cash and cash equivalents from a year earlier, notes Seeking Alpha.

A repurchase plan may help buoy shares, suggests that report.

Back in March 2012 Apple announced that it would start paying a quarterly dividend of US$2.65 to investors. So far the company has paid two dividends, on 16 August and 15 November. The next dividend will be due around 15 February.

At the same time, the company authorised a US$10 billion share repurchase program that was to commenced in Apple’s fiscal 2013, which began on 30 September, 2012.

When Tim Cook announced the US$10 billion share repurchase program back in March 2012, he explained that it had been has authorised with the primary objective of neutralizing dilution from future grants through Apple’s employee equity program.

Increasing the repurchase program and speeding it up may help accelerate Apple’s earnings growth on a remaining per share basis, suggests Seeking Alpha.

Apple has made other recent recruitments in its financial department including United Continental Hoardings CFO Zane Rowe as Vice President of Sales and Symantec’s Chief Accounting Officer Phillip Bullock as head of Apple’s tax department.

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