No other company displays the paradigm shift away from CEOs towards CFOs in the corporate and investing worlds like Apple. While CEO Tim Cook is certainly seen as Apple’s leader and the company’s face, it’s Peter Oppenheimer – the Chief Financial Officer – who investors are hounding about the company’s financial health and future. Though Apple’s stock is 60 percent lower than its historic high, the company still has enough cash on hand to cover the annual budget of San Francisco – for the next two decades.
While Apple’s Q1 results showcased the company’s first profit decline in ten years, revenue was still up 11 percent from last year, $43.6 billion compared to $39.2 billion. Still, many investors claim that Apple’s tight grip on its cash vault is the reason stock prices tumbled towards the end of 2012 and throughout the winter. To counter these concerns, CFO Peter Oppenheimer is promising investors over $100 billion to its shareholders over the next two years. In an even larger unprecedented move, Apple will also purchase back $60 billion in shares. To top off this financial strategy, Apple will raise its dividend by 15 percent.
Apple Stands at a Precipice
Both CFO Peter Oppenheimer and CEO Tim Cook understand that Apple stands at a precipice. Its strategy and financial decisions moving forward could determine whether or not Apple can regain its legendary stock value after last winter’s tumble. With the $100 billion buyback and dividend program, it seems that Apple is mobilizing its cash reserves. Since Apple is usually mum about any major releases until they happen, it’s hard to guess whether the tech giant has something up their sleeve. Yet, it seems apparent that though cash payouts will nicely quell investor murmurs, Apple needs a new, major product release to be able to keep pace with the expectations that have been set. Apple TV, anyone?
The position that Peter Oppenheimer finds himself in is the embodiment of what many CFOs are experiencing: a challenge to protect the bottom line while also boosting marketplace confidence. Because CFOs like Oppenheimer must instill such confidence, the increase of responsibilities added to the CFO and taken away from the CEO continues to accelerate. As this sort of market structure changes, especially since the 2008 financial panic, CFOs must hone their public relations and communications skills similar to their financial skills.