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Tim Cook: If You Don't Like Our Energy Policies, Don't Buy Apple Stock 348

Posted by timothy
from the quantifiable-vs-unquantifiable dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Nick Statt reports at Cnet that at Apple's annual shareholder meeting Friday, Apple CEO Tim Cook shot down the suggestion from a conservative, Washington, DC-based think tank that Apple give up on environmental initiatives that don't contribute to the company's bottom line. The National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR), hasn't taken kindly to Apple's increasing reliance on green energy and said so in a statement issued to Apple ahead of the meeting. 'We object to increased government control over company products and operations, and likewise mandatory environmental standards,' said NCPPR General Counsel Justin Danhof demanding that the pledge be voted on at the meeting. 'This is something [Apple] should be actively fighting, not preparing surrender.' Cook responded that there are many things Apple does because they are right and just, and that a return on investment (ROI) was not the primary consideration on such issues. 'When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind. I don't consider the bloody ROI,' said Cook. 'We do a lot of things for reasons besides profit motive, We want to leave the world better than we found it.' Danhof's proposal was voted down and to any who found the company's environmental dedication either ideologically or economically distasteful, Cook advised 'if you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock.'"
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Tim Cook: If You Don't Like Our Energy Policies, Don't Buy Apple Stock

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  • by BBCWatcher (900486) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @08:38AM (#46375091)
    The stockholders voted, and Apple's energy policy won easily.
  • by buddyglass (925859) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @09:21AM (#46375293)
    What was implicit in his statement is that Apple's energy policies are extremely important to the company and are overwhelmingly supported by Apple's shareholders. i.e. if you're among the tiny minority of shareholders who disagrees then your only options are to deal with it or sell your shares. Implied is that a campaign to force management to abandon the policies is doomed to failure given their broad support.
  • by tomhath (637240) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @09:38AM (#46375373)

    Stock holders don't own the company. If they owned the company, they would be liable for any debt if the company goes bankrupt.

    Stockholders do indeed own the company. Laws limit the liability of stockholders' in a publicly held corporation to encourage that type of investment. Capitalism runs on investment.

  • Re:Or... (Score:5, Informative)

    by St.Creed (853824) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @09:53AM (#46375441)

    Buying stocks or even the products of a company that supports Greenies is not a responsible act.

    And buying the stocks of a company that ignores the law is somehow more responsible? Basically they were asking Tim Cook to ignore the federal mandates on green energy.

    Even apart from that moronic idea, locally the number of datacenters we can actually place here in the country is now limited by the capacity of the grid. Doing small scale experiments on how to diminish that reliance, or even go off-grid on a large scale, is very likely to be a smart move. And that is not even taking into account the fact that in the country next door they are actually paying companies to use energy on days they have too much free energy (wind and solar). It makes the energy-intensive companies so competitive that a big one in this country has just gone bankrupt. Making sure that Apple retains an ability to mix and match between different energy providers is just sensible business, however you look at it.

  • by Ichijo (607641) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @10:03AM (#46375499) Homepage Journal

    In an economy where market failures such as negative externalities are corrected, Apple is already doing the sort of thing that any company would do to maximize ROI. The problem is that conservative organizations such as the NCPPR tend not to believe in externalities [blogspot.com], probably because it conflicts with their ideology that the Earth is not warming or that humans are not the cause of it.

    It's ironic that the NCPPR bring up ROI when they bash [juneauempire.com] a $68.4 billion train project that would provide the same transportation capacity as $158 billion spent on roads and airports. What this and their meddling in Apple's affairs tells us is that they aren't truly interested in ROI but in supporting Big Oil and opposing anything that competes with burning dirty, nonrenewable fuels. This also explains why they don't believe in anthropogenic global warming. "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" (Upton Sinclair)

  • by SpankiMonki (3493987) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @10:33AM (#46375639)

    Funny how the good folks at the NCPPR didn't demand that Apple stop their philanthropic activities, which by NCPPR logic would also hurt shareholder value. For some reason, they only objected to Apple's "green" initiatives...I wonder why?

    Either way, those "think tank" guys should go back to school and learn how capital assets are actually priced. [wikipedia.org] If the NCPPR had gotten their way, it's likely that Apple's stock price would have gone down, not up.

  • An investor is not an owner. The money he paid for the stock did not go to Apple, it went to some other market player. In a very real sense, a corporation has no owners. Not in the sense that you own your car (assuming you've finished paying for it).

    Corporate policies are made by the Board of Directors and the corporate officers. The Board directs the officers. The Board can be directed by the stockholders. Which happened in this case, with the stockholders telling the Board that ROI was less important than going green.

    This has been the first thing Apple has done since the Apple ][ days that makes me think I might want to own one of their products. Maybe. Go Tim!

  • by sjbe (173966) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @11:00AM (#46375805)

    Stock holders don't own the company.

    They most assuredly do own the company. That is precisely how stock works. The ENTIRE point of corporate stock is to divorce the liability of the company from the ownership. It allows companies to take risks that would otherwise be impossible. (And before you jump in with some snarky response, yes that separation of liability from ownership is a Good Thing - companies would not exist without it) Common stock holders however are last in line to get paid if the company goes belly up. Debt holders typically are first in line.

    If they owned the company, they would be liable for any debt if the company goes bankrupt.

    Wrong. The company is a separate entity. Except for very small companies there is NEVER a personal guarantee of any debt. The debt is either unsecured or is secured by the assets of the company including all cash flows and receivables, tangible and intangible assets. In the event of a liquidation or bankruptcy, the common stockholders are last in line to recover any money from those assets so they carry the most risk.

  • Re:You got it buddy! (Score:4, Informative)

    by wjcofkc (964165) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @11:11AM (#46375873)

    Nope, I got all the money I need from developing weapons for the military. Im much too moral to further the dumbing down of the world by financing Apple.

    Wow. A bit of an oxymoron situation there. You're happy to increase the killing efficiency of the war machine - which only becomes more efficient at killing people in general, not just the enemy while creating further unrest in the world and more killing, but you find a computer immoral? Have you ever even used a Mac? It's a full blown BSD system, it even comes with X windows, and is a great platform for running Open Source software even if most but not all of the OS is closed source. It is a great companion for a Linux and FreeBSD junking like myself. But if you are an average computer user, you never have to see that and can use it as an average computer and everything in between. That is power and flexibility. So, dumbing down compared to what and on what grounds? Windows? Chrome? Whatever it is, it dumbed you down a long time ago. While I am an Android user, if you want to direct this at iOS, I could circle back around and start all over - but I don't think your ignorance is worth any more of my time than it has already received.

  • by the_B0fh (208483) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @11:28AM (#46375963) Homepage

    You need to put down that ganja dude.

    Each share gets one vote. 2.95% of the vote gets you nothing. Especially when you are just trying to raise your own profile by being an asshole at Apple's shareholder meeting.

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @01:20PM (#46376683)

    As a head of a company with possibly millions of bosses, I would think that not insulting any of them would be impossible. If you read more [nationalcenter.org] about the NCPPR it would appear that this boss has a specific political agenda and the truth is what they say it is. For example, what Tim Cook actually said:

    "When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind, I don't consider the bloody ROI. . . If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock."

    What they claim: "Mr. Cook made it very clear to me that if I, or any other investor, was more concerned with return on investment than reducing carbon dioxide emissions, my investment is no longer welcome at Apple," said Justin Danhof, Esq.

    Notice that nowhere do they publish his actual comments but their slant on it. Also if you read further:

    Danhof went on to ask if Cook was willing to amend Apple's corporate documents to indicate that the company would not pursue environmental initiatives that have some sort of reasonable return on investment - similar to the concession the National Center recently received from General Electric. This question was greeted by boos and hisses from the Al gore contingency in the room.

    But Business Insider reports it differently: "The second, in which the representative asked Cook to commit on the spot to only making moves that were profitable for the company, drew the most intense comeback we've heard from the executive."

    So according to a reporter, the NCPPR wanted Apple, right then and there, to commit to do things that only show profit.

    Of course, they are not done but insinuate hidden moves by Apple:

    "Rather than opting for transparency, Apple opposed the National Center's resolution," noted Danhof.

    I'm not sure what the company the NCPPR is following but a simple google search came up with Apple's very public environmental reports [apple.com].

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @02:07PM (#46376995)

    The NCPPR wasn't trying to get Tim Cook riled up....they were trying to make millions of stockholders aware that Al Gore, whom both the left and right recognize as a nutjob, is the board member driving some weird decisions at Apple, and that Tim is backing him.

    That's a lot of nutjob conspiracy accusations without any evidence there. Dell has green initiatives, and I can without a doubt say Al Gore has nothing to do with them.

    Al doesn't know the first thing about computers. And he's on the board of directors at Apple.

    Dina Dublon [microsoft.com] knows nothing about software yet she's on the board of Microsoft. I daresay, most of IBM's board [ibm.com] knows nothing about IT services. Having technical knowledge about a company's products isn't a requisite for most boards.

    And he's working (and succeeding) at driving Apple board discussions away from how to make computing devices and into "how to fight climate change." He's shifting the company away from what they're good at into something new, and political.

    Unless you are present and have firsthand knowledge of the Gore's interaction with Apple, you can't claim this.

    "Hey! You guys hired Lisa, the former head of the EPA to be a decision maker at Apple. What sense does that make? What qualifications does she have to make decisions for a tech company?"

    A simple Google search and Apple's announcement [forbes.com] shows you that she's in charge of Apple's environmental programs. I would think that her job at the Environmental Protection Agency would qualify her for such a position.

  • by sjbe (173966) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @08:00PM (#46378789)

    Gaaaaa! No! You did so well up to that point. The size of the company has nothing to do with it.

    It has EVERYTHING to do with it when it comes to debt. Doesn't matter if it is an LLC or a C-Corp. If you are small you'll be asked for a personal guarantee of any debt. If you are large you won't. The form of incorporation has nothing whatsoever to do with this. The bank doesn't care. They only care about the level of risk and the assets backing their loan.

    sole proprietorship, LLC/LLP and S corporations have individual liability to owners/shareholders. C-corps have boards and share holders with no individual liability.

    You are incorrect. ANY S or C corporation or LLC/LLP will have a corporate veil. That is the entire point of them. Don't take my word for it, go check. The difference between those forms of company has to do primarily with how taxes are handled but the corporate veil is still there. You can have an S-Corp with just one owner and they will NOT have unlimited personal liability. Sole proprietorships and simple partnerships (not LLPs) do have personal liability but they are not technically corporations. I'm an accountant and I've started 5 companies. I know this stuff more than passingly well.

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