Apple

SEC: Nothing Rotten About Apple

Four months after opening its review of Apple’s finances, the Securities and Exchange Commission has closed it, having found nothing untoward about the company’s handling of its overseas cash and related tax policies. In a September letter to Apple, released late last week, the SEC said it had completed its review of the company’s fiscal 2012 […]

Tim Cook Is Sorry He’s Not Sorry

Apple Inc Chief Executive Tim Cook made no apology on Tuesday for the iPad maker saving billions of dollars in U.S. taxes through Irish subsidiaries and told lawmakers that his company backs corporate tax reform, even though it may end up paying more. The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has found that Apple in 2012 alone […]

Accounting Career Moves: When Faced with a Choice, Do You Go with Prestige or Power?

Let's use Luca Maestri’s move from Xerox to Apple as a discussion starter: Apple Inc. (AAPL), the world’s most valuable company, has hired Xerox Corp. (XRX) Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri as its corporate controller. […] “Moving from Xerox to Apple is a step up, even going from CFO to controller,” John Bright, an analyst […]

Tax Shaming Works

Martin Sullivan cites a KPMG study from 2005 that was ahead of its time:  "The main point is not that accusations are often unjustified, but the fact that they are made at all. Tax has news value now and, although often unfounded, 'naming and shaming' attacks on alleged tax avoiders can damage their reputations in the eyes […]

Memo to The New York Times: The Tax Shaming Has Gotten Old

Last weekend, the New York Times ran an exposé on Apple and its "sidestepping" of taxes. Since it's been a week-ish, I think things have quieted down enough so we can take this discussion in a new direction. Specifically, how the Times' tax coverage, of late, has been the equivalent of ten pounds of monkey shit stuffed […]

New York Post Goes for the Obligatory Tax Coverage Re: Steve Jobs’s Death

The Post reports that the Jobs family can avoid a lot of taxes on the Apple stock that they will inherit from Steve if they sell the stock right away. He held about 5.5 million shares, priced at just under $370 today. Of course he also was large shareholder in Disney, with shares worth about $4.4 billion. So between those two little grips, maybe Adrienne was right about SJ. [NYP via TaxProf]

Apple CFO’s Seemingly Banal Statement Interpreted Quite Differently by The Wall St. Journal

Apple Insider reported yesterday that when Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer was asked about Google’s acquisition of Motorola he reportedly said, “$12.5 billion is a lot of money.” Now, I don’t know anyone that would say, “$12.5 billion is pocket change,” or “I piss on $12.5 billion.” Not even the most ostentatious Russian oligarch would be so bold to laugh in the face of that sum of money.

Having said that, it appears the Wall St. Journal seems to think that Oppenheimer’s statement are akin to fighting words, as illustrated by the headline: “Apple CFO Snipes at Google’s Motorola Bid” which included the following:

Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO, took a shot at Google when asked about the company’s $12.5 billion bid for Motorola Mobility Holdings during a conference call with investors hosted by Gleacher & Company. Oppenheimer said that companies should invent their own technology rather than buy it from the outside, adding that “$12.5 billion is a lot of money,” according to a report from Apple Insider.

First of all, to look at Peter Oppenheimer you wouldn’t think he’s capable of “sniping.” Secondly, “snipe” is defined as “To make malicious, underhand remarks or attacks” according to Wiktionary. For example, if Oppenheimer had said something like, “Larry Page couldn’t get laid in a monkey whorehouse with a bag of bananas” or “Androids are the Yugos of the smartphone world,” those would qualify as snipes. They are malicious, underhanded and are attacks.

Conversely, “$12.5 billion is a lot of money” is not a snipe. It is a statement of a fact-ish. It is a lot of money. You could argue that it is Oppenheimer’s opinion but as posited above, very few would argue that it isn’t a lot of money. Is Google overpaying for Motorola? That’s the question Michael Hickins ultimately asks in his article but somehow the hook for this was that Apple’s CFO brings the same level of snark as the CEO.

Apple CFO Snipes at Google’s Motorola Bid [WSJ]

Memo to CFOs: Apple Voluntarily Switched Auditors and Things Are Just Dandy

Ron Fink at CFO Journal reports that CFOs that are breaking out in a rash due to auditor rotation anxiety might be having a knee-jerk hypochondriacal reaction.

You see, the company that the media loves to figuratively fellate, Apple, opted to put their audit business out to bid every five years and not only have costs gone down, “it has reported no problems with its financial results as a result of the change.” So now Apple is also more progressive and transparent with their corporate governance processes than your company. And you don’t have the iPad. [CFO Journal]

Stephen Schwarzman Has Got Himself a Pretty Loyal CFO

Question: Who says “no” to Apple when offered a job? Answer: Blackstone Group CFO Laurence Tosi.

And what does one do when you commit an act of such allegiance? You tell the boss, natch:

Apple Inc. approached Blackstone Group LP Chief Financial Officer Laurence Tosi to become its finance chief, three people with knowledge of the matter said.

Tosi told Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman that he plans to stay, rather than join Apple, said two of the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks were private.

The ‘Berg reports that because Apple has cash burning a hole in their pocket, they may be looking for a CFO who has acquisition experience and in case you haven’t heard, that’s sorta what Blackstone does. Apple gave the classic “non-denial denial” telling Bloomberg that they are “not conducting a CFO search,” and Pete “loves the company and is extremely happy in his role.”

But that doesn’t make him Laurence Tosi, does it?

Apple’s New Audit Committee Chairman Is a Rocket Scientist

No, a for-real rocket scientist.

Apple Inc. named former Northrop Grumman Corp. Chief Executive Officer Ron Sugar as a director, adding an aerospace-technology expert to a board that includes leaders in retail, cosmetics, software and politics.

Sugar, 62, will serve as the board’s audit and finance committee chairman, Cupertino, California-based Apple said today in a statement. Sugar headed Northrop, the third-largest U.S. military contractor, from 2003 until last year, helping the company consolidate $26 billion in acquisitions.

Okay, accounting/auditing isn’t the most mind-bending of trades, so why does Steve Jobs feel the need to appoint someone who has spent most of their careers putting things into space as their audit and finance chairs? We’re sure Mr. Sugar is an extremely smart man – c’mon, A ROCKET SCIENTIST! – and is obviously good with numbers but doesn’t this level of irrelevant expertise seem a tad ridiculous? Just wondering out loud.

Accounting News Roundup: FinReg Brings Plenty of Change; Some Number Crunching of Goldman’s Fine; ATF: Sin Taxes Rose 41% | 07.16.10

Law Remakes U.S. Financial Landscape [WSJ]
The Journal asked twelves experts about the bill, many of whom are not nearly as impressed as the Deal Professor. “Congress approved a rewrite of rules touching every corner of finance, from ATM cards to Wall Street traders, in the biggest expansion of government power over banking and markets since the Depression.

The bill, to be signed into law soon by President Barack Obama, marks a potential sea change for the financial-services industry. Financial titans such as J.P. Morgan Chase &Group Inc. and Bank of America Corp. may be forced to make changes in most parts of their business, from debit cards to the ability to invest in hedge funds.”

Apple May Offer IPhone Cases, Rebates to Address Flaw [Bloomberg]
Start forming the lines again, “Apple Inc., looking to avoid a recall of the iPhone 4, may give away rubber cases or offer an in-store fix to address a design flaw in the newest version of its top-selling product, according to analysts.

The company, which is holding a news conference at 1 p.m. New York time today, doesn’t plan to announce a recall, a person familiar with the matter said yesterday. Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs may instead offer the giveaways or refunds to dissatisfied customers, some analysts said.”

Google CFO: Old Spice Is The Future [Tech Crunch]
Written on a horse: “You know you’ve got a viral marketing hit on your hands when the CFO of Google mentions it in an earnings call. Yes, I am talking about the Old Spice YouTube Tweetathon where the bare-chested Old Spice Man addresses people on Twitter via personalized commercials on YouTube.”

Goldman’s SEC Settlement by the Numbers: We Do the Math [ProPublica]
Effectively, it will be paid for by August 1.


AIG Says It Counted as Much as $2.3 Billion of Repos as Sales [Bloomberg BusinessWeek]
Somewhere a former Lehman CFO is screaming, “See, I told you everyone was doing it!”

“American International Group Inc., the bailed-out insurer, said it classified as much as $2.3 billion of repurchase agreements and $3.8 billion of securities- lending transactions as sales in calculating quarterly results.

In late 2008, ‘certain of AIG’s counterparties demanded significantly higher levels of collateral to enter into repurchase agreements, which resulted in sales rather than collateralized-financing’ treatment under accounting guidelines, the New York-based insurer said in an April 13 letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission released today. The accounting didn’t materially affect any ratios or metrics the company publicly disclosed, AIG said in the letter.”

‘Sin Tax’ Revenue Surges [TaxProf Blog]
“The Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau has released its Fiscal Year 2009 Annual Report, detailing a 41% increase (to $20.6 billion) in the amount of “sin taxes” on alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and ammunition collected by the federal government. Most of the $6 billion revenue increase resulted from the higher tobacco taxes included in the Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization Act of 2009. Firearms and ammunition excise tax collection rose 45%, the largest annual increase in the agency’s history.”

In Non-iPad Apple News, A Look at Earnings Under New Accounting Rules

Editor’s note: This story is republished from CFOZone, where you’ll find news, analysis and professional networking tools for corporate finance executives.

Yes, yes. There’s plenty of iPad talk going on out there but we’ll resist the urge and focus on the numbers here.

Ron Fink wrote back in September about concerns over new accounting rules for revenue recognition doing little more than providing more areas of confusion for investors.

Under the new rules, companies can book revenue based on estimated sales prices for all the components of “bundled deliverables” all at once instead of on their current fair value. The expectation is that the rule will boost upfront earnings for tech companies whose products combine hardware and software.

Well, on Monday night, Apple made its first quarterly earnings report under the new rules and they certainly gave the tech darling a boost, but it’s unclear whether it will ultimately confuse investors. Indeed, they were likely distracted by Apple raking in $3.4 billion in net income for the quarter ended Dec. 26, up 50 percent from a year earlier.

Apple went to great lengths to explain the effect of the rules on its financial statements. The company revised its financial statements for each quarter from fiscal 2007 through fiscal 2009, the period it’s been selling both the iPhone and Apple TV, which it had previously used subscription accounting for because it periodically provides free software upgrades and features for them.


Under subscription accounting, revenue and associated product cost of sales for iPhone and Apple TV were deferred at the time of sale and recognized on a straight-line basis over each product’s estimated economic life of 24 months. This resulted in the deferral of significant amounts of revenue and cost of sales related to iPhone and Apple TV. The changes had the effect of slimming the company’s balance sheet considerably. Assets at the end of its fiscal year 2009 were reduced by $6.4 billion and liabilities were cut by $10.2 billion, giving a $3.8 billion boost to shareholders’ equity.

And in reconciling its first quarter 2009 to the new accounting standard, Apple showed net sales got a nearly 17 percent boost, while its cost of sales went up just 11 percent. That had the effect of stretching gross margins from 34.7 percent to 37.9 percent.

Apple, which wasn’t required to adopt the new rule until the first quarter of its fiscal 2011, certainly is not objecting to the change. In its earnings conference call Monday, CFO Peter Oppenheimer said, “We are very pleased by the FASB ratification of the new accounting principles as we believe they will better enable us to reflect the underlying economics and performance of our business and therefore we will no longer be providing non-GAAP financial measures.”

Will Apple’s Accounting Encourage Others to Drop Non-GAAP Measures?

A tipster pointed us to Apple’s transcript from last night’s earnings call, noting that the company has indicated that they will no longer be providing non-GAAP measures. This is a result of the solid that the FASB did for Apple back in September:

We are very pleased by the FASB’s ratification of the new accounting principles as we believe they will better enable us to reflect the underlying economics and performance of our business and therefore we will no longer be providing non-GAAP financial measures.


Our tipster noted that since using non-GAAP measures are a commonly used by companies and analysts, Apple’s declaration that they would not be “providing non-GAAP financial measures,” could potentially change things. It’s one thing if say, Koss were to say they’re not going to provide non-GAAP numbers, but this is Apple.
The company enjoys a top of the mind position, so other companies may embrace this method of engaging with analysts and other users. And since Apple isn’t shy about controlling the information they provide (e.g. Steve Jobs’ pancreas) this seems to be another way for them to dictate the information they are providing.
It’s not a stretch to say that many companies try to emulate Apple; whether or not they will emulate Apple’s financial reporting methods remains to be seen. Strange, because we figured they were just innovative on the gadget front.

Apple’s Carbon Accounting Trick

steve-jobs-plush-toy-1.jpgWhat’s next, a FASB for carbon accounting? Should companies be required to report carbon emissions and if so, who is going to audit these statements? After all, data is only as good as the substantive tests that prove its accuracy.
Apple has never been at the top of environmentalists’ list as a green company but for the first time it is now publishing corporate carbon data on its website for all to see.
Continued, after the jump


Business Week:

Apple’s real goal is to change the terms of the debate. Company executives say that most existing green rankings are flawed in several respects. They count the promises companies make about green plans rather than actual achievements. And most focus on the environmental impact of a company’s operations, but exclude that of its products.
Apple argues that broader, more comprehensive figures for carbon emissions should be used–for everything from materials mined for its products to the electricity used to power them–and it’s offering up its own data to make the case. Executives say that consumers’ use of Apple products accounts for 53% of the company’s total 10.2 million tons of carbon emissions annually. That’s more than the 38% that occurs as the products are manufactured in Asia or the 3% that comes from Apple’s own operations. “A lot of companies publish how green their building is, but it doesn’t matter if you’re shipping millions of power-hungry products with toxic chemicals in them,” says CEO Steve Jobs in an interview. “It’s like asking a cigarette company how green their office is.”

Again, I’m skeptical of any self-reported data that doesn’t go through the usual channels like financial statements would. Imagine if a company like Apple was also allowed to slap together some cash flows without the little auditors crawling all over the numbers, “Hey investors! Check us out, we made $52 bazillion this quarter in iPhone sales alone!” Yeah, ok.
I’m not even sure what this carbon argument is all about so I’ll just let this one go. Good job, Apple. I think.

Review Comments | 07.21.09

Ben_Bernanke.jpgBernanke Sheds Light on Exit Strategy – “Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke shed light Tuesday on the toolkit the central bank can employ to unwind its crisis measures, but he made clear to lawmakers that the economy remains too weak to start tightening monetary policy.” Better than no exit strategy [WSJ]
CIT Expects Loss of $1.5 Billion, May Seek Bankruptcy – “CIT Group Inc., the 101-year-old commercial lender seeking to avoid collapse, said it expects to report a loss of more than $1.5 billion for the second quarter and may need to file for bankruptcy if it’s unable to tender for notes maturing next month.” [Bloomberg]
Apple’s quarterly profit tops forecasts – The good results… [Reuters]
Yahoo sees drop in income from operations this quarter – …and the bad. [Reuters]
Which Of Alan Greenspan’s More Quotable Quotes Will Bite Him In The Ass On The Big Screen? [DealBreaker]
The Goldman Way to Celebrate: a Parody – Well played LB. Well played. [DealBook]