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Carl Icahn Asks Apple for a Faster Share Buyback

Love you, Tim. Now buy my shares!

Photo illustration: John Paczkowski / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Carl Icahn’s back. With the same demand.

As expected, the billionaire investor asked Apple to make a tender offer for its shares to speed up a stock buyback because he believes the stock is undervalued, according to an open letter published on Thursday morning.

Icahn, who has threatened to take similar actions on multiple occasions dating back to 2013, said he “could not be more supportive of [Apple CEO Tim Cook]” and expected strong growth in sales on the back of a stellar lineup.

https://twitter.com/carl_c_icahn/status/520190869849534464

Here are some relevant bits from his magnum opus:

The intention of this letter is to communicate two things to you: (1) given the earnings growth we forecast for Apple, we continue to think that the market misunderstands and dramatically undervalues Apple and (2) the excess liquidity the company continues to hold on its balance sheet affords the company an amazing opportunity to take further advantage of this valuation disconnect by accelerating share repurchases.

To be totally clear, this letter is in no way intended as a criticism of you as CEO, nor is it intended to be critical of anything you or your team are doing from an operational perspective at Apple. Quite to the contrary, we could not be more supportive of you and your team, and of the excellent work being done at Apple, a company that continues to change the world through technological innovation.

Icahn lays out the case for why he feels Apple’s stock should be trading at $203 a share, not today’s market price of $101.51. He writes that the newly introduced iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are the most significant improvement in the device since the company entered the smartphone market in 2007 — and he predicts the larger-screen phones will cause people to abandon their high-end Android devices.

“The choice between them is analogous to the choice between a Volkswagen over a Mercedes at the same price,” Icahn wrote.

In addition to the anticipated marketshare gain forecasts from the latest iPhones, Icahn said he sees continued growth from new product categories, such as the Apple Watch — and possibly even a new TV in 2016 — as well as from new services, in particular the Apple Pay mobile wallet.

Icahn projects 82 percent revenue growth through 2017, and a more than doubling of earnings, from a projected $40.9 billion this year to $87.4 billion.

The billionaire, who said he now holds 53 million Apple shares, evaluated the potential of existing products, such as the iPad, and future product offerings. He anticipated that the iPad, after a sales slump, would rebound with the expected introduction of a larger 12.9-inch tablet next year.

Icahn predicted that Apple’s first foray into wearable devices would “revolutionize” the product category, and could sell as many as 20 million Apple Watches in its first year, with sales gaining momentum in subsequent years. He called Apple Pay a “compelling” new category for the company, one that will meaningfully contribute to the company’s bottom line over time, as more retailers install terminals using near field communications technology to transact purchases.

“At today’s price, Apple is one of the best investments we have ever seen from a risk reward perspective, and the size of our position is a testament to this,” Icahn writes. “This investment represents the largest position in our investment history, reflecting the strength of the convictions we have expressed in this letter.”

Apple issued a statement, thanking Icahn for his input. The company noted that it has dramatically increased the size of its share buyback program, from $10 billion when it was first announced in 2012 to $90 billion in April.

“We always appreciate hearing from our shareholders,” the company said in a statement. “Since 2013 we’ve been aggressively executing the largest capital return program in corporate history. As we’ve said before, we will review the program annually and take into account the input from all of our shareholders.”

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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