Apple’s Tim Cook tells investors angry about share price: ‘I don’t like it either’

The head of Apple, who is facing a shareholder rebellion over his pay, has acknowledged the widespread disappointment in the company’s sagging share price at its annual shareholders’ meeting at Cupertino in California.

“I don’t like it either,” Tim Cook told them. He is facing a revolt among shareholders over a 51% rise in his basic salary to $1.4m (£923,000). According to the Financial Times, more than a third of investors have vote against the increase.

The scale of the protest will be a serious embarrassment for the company. The FT based its report on proxy votes cast ahead of the meeting: the official outcome will be announced later, reports The Guardian.

The world’s most valuable tech company headed into its annual meeting at its headquarters on Wednesday on shakier ground than it has been accustomed to in recent years, since the iPhone and iPad helped propel the company to premier investment status.

Last year, its shares climbed from $405 (£267) at the beginning of the year to a peak of $705 in September, but they have since declined to $442 as concerns have mounted that there is no new breakthrough product in the pipeline and amid intense competition from Samsung and other smartphones using Google’s Android operating system.

The declining share price has led to demands that Apple share more of its $137bn mountain of cash and securities – equivalent to Hungary’s gross domestic product. The demands are being spearheaded by outspoken hedge fund manager David Einhorn, who has launched a lawsuit to force Apple to pay out some of its cash.

Cook said again on Wednesday that Einhorn’s lawsuit was a “silly sideshow”. The underlying principle of cash distribution was something he and the board took seriously, he added.

Einhorn was not spotted at the meeting, but Cook repeated that the company’s board remained in “very very active” discussions about options for cash sharing, and said he understood investors’ dissatisfaction over the stock price.

“I don’t like it either. The board doesn’t like it. The management team doesn’t like it,” he said. But by focusing on the long term, revenue and profit would follow, he said.

Cook added that the company was working on new product categories, but, as usual, would not elaborate. Speculation is rife on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley that the iPhone maker is working on a project to revolutionise the television and TV content, or a smart “iWatch” timepiece.

Despite the sliding share price and uncertainty over its product pipeline, shareholders re-elected the entire board and Cook won more than 99% of the vote in preliminary results.