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Thursday, August 15, 2013, 05:58 am PT (08:58 am ET)

RBC believes Apple Inc. could double $60B share buyback, ups price target to $525

With billionaire investor Carl Icahn pushing for Apple to initiate a larger share buyback, RBC Capital Markets believes the iPhone maker could nearly double its current $60 billion in planned expenditures while maintaining a manageable level of debt in order to boost its share price.

RBC


Analyst Amit Daryanani sees such a move adding about $4 to Apple's fiscal year 2014 earnings per share, an increase of about 10 percent. Most large cap companies have a debt to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amoritization ratio of about 2x, while Apple is currently at 0.3x.

If Apple were to accrue more debt and nearly double the size of their planned buyback to about $115 billion, the company could still have a debt-to-EBITDA ratio of 1.3x, Daryanani said. That would keep it well below other large cap companies and in line with fellow tech company IBM.

He sees a major increase to Apple's stock buyback program potentially boosting the value of AAPL shares by as much as $90.RBC Capital Markets believes Apple could afford to take on more debt in order to boost its stock price.

Apple plans to spend $60 billion through 2015 to repurchase shares. With its stock off more than $250 from its all-time high, Apple opted to accelerate its schedule and spend $16 billion last quarter to buy back 36 million shares.

Apple still has more than $40 billion to buy back shares over the next two years, but Icahn believes the company should accelerate those plans, and encouraged Chief Executive Tim Cook to do so in a conversation earlier this week. The investor also revealed that he has a "large position" in the company worth about $1.5 billion, a revelation that helped to push AAPL shares past $500 on Wednesday for the first time since January 23.

Regardless of whether or not Apple does boost its buyback program, Daryanani said investors will remain focused on the company's new iPhones, which are expected to be introduced at a media event on Sept. 10. He has upped his price target for AAPL from $475 to $525, with an "upside scenario" of $600.