Ah, Apple Inc. The company that could do no wrong in my eyes, during the Jobs era. And the company that has done nothing significant since the post Jobs era.
The stock has declined 32% this year. I’ve chronicled the reasons in a few posts on here, so I won’t rehash them. I just feel about the company now the way I would about a Master limited partnership: if one cannot get innovation, at least you can get dividend checks.
Given their tacit admission that they’ve run out of new acts to follow the old, Apple did something that makes more sense than buying Tesla (which people actually suggested): they bought a stake in Uber’s rival in China, Didi Chuxing. Why does it make sense? Apple is a computing hardware company. Didi has tons of cars which need devices. Secondly, they are absolutely dominant in China, where Apple has seen it’s business decline and some government clamp down on its App store. Getting their hands on Didi’s users, it’s data and it’s devices will help Apple a heck of a lot. Anyhow, as long as Tim Cook and co put strategic thought to their acquisitions, it’s likely to pan out better than doing stock buybacks and paying dividends.
Which brings us to Berkshire Hathaway. Apparently, Warren Buffet’s piggy bank plopped down almost $1 billion worth of Apple shares in the last quarter. Given Mr. Buffet’s tech aversion, it’s likely this purchase was carried out by his lieutenants. I see the investment as a good one, Apple fell to close to intrinsic value this year, which for a tech company is almost unheard of so its future is likely rather positive. But all the same It’s oddly poetic that Berkshire shareholders who like Buffet, are all about boring, stable companies in predictable sectors like finance, insurance, rail and retail are now long both Apple directly, and indirectly, Didi which is a Chinese unicorn with a decidedly millennial business model.
Over in Europe, there’s this insightful coverage about the new CEO of Deutsche Bank, John Cryan. If you’ve not been following Deutsche Bank’s situation in the last few years, then I don’t know where to begin to catch you up. But I love it. Also, I’m putting it out there that I want individual business stories from Nigeria so if you or anyone you know is running a business and wouldn’t mind me doing a piece on them, please comment with your suggestions or hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org. We need to delve a whole lot more into the challenges and triumphs of doing business in Nigeria and who better to hear from than those who have already done it?