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Apple quickly buys back US$14b in shares, says WSJ

Apple gobbled up US$14 billion worth of its shares in the two weeks after earnings figures disappointed the market, chief executive Tim Cook said in an interview published Thursday.

SAN FRANCISCO: Apple gobbled up US$14 billion worth of its shares in the two weeks after earnings figures disappointed the market, chief executive Tim Cook said in an interview published Thursday.

Cook told The Wall Street Journal that the maker of iPads, iPhones, iPods and Macintosh computers was "surprised" by a drop in share price triggered by the quarter results and wanted to be "opportunistic."

Including the shares bought after the release of earnings results on January 27, California-based Apple has bought back more than US$40 billion worth of its stock, according to the Journal.

Record iPhone and iPad sales pushed Apple quarterly revenue to a new high but shares tumbled over concerns of weaker profits ahead in fierce mobile gadget markets.

The tech giant reported net income of US$13.1 billion on revenue of US$57.6 billion in the quarter that ended December 28, helped by selling 51 million iPhones.

The profit was the same as Apple reported in the same quarter a year earlier when its revenue was US$54.5 billion.

The stock buyback was said to be part of a previously announced plan by Apple to return US$100 billion to investors, with US$60 billion of that involving repurchase of shares.

Apple shares were up to US$512.51 at the close of the trading day on Thursday.

Cook said the move indicated that Apple is betting on itself.

Activist investor Carl Icahn is also apparently betting on Apple.

He fired off word a day after the company's latest earnings release saying that he beefed up his Apple stock holdings by a half-billion dollars as the share price dipped.

Apple shares were down about eight per cent the day after release of the quarterly earnings report.

Icahn has put out word that he has invested some US$3 billion or more in Apple, and claimed the tech giant is "doing a disservice to shareholders" by not increasing its share buyback.

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