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Wells Fargo: Apple may need to raise more debt to pay for increased share repurchase

While the $6.5 billion bond issue revealed on Monday may be enough to cover its existing capital return program, Wells Fargo believes that Apple could be forced to either raise an additional round of debt or repatriate cash from overseas if the program is to continue its traditional annual increase.




Wells Fargo analyst Maynard Um believes that Apple's $20 billion in onshore cash and the $6.5 billion bond offering would easily pay for the current share repurchase program and a projected 9 percent increase in the company's dividend, but would not stretch beyond that. Um made the prediction in a Monday evening note to investors, a copy of which was provided to AppleInsider.

As noted by Um, Apple raised $17 billion in 2013 and increased the buyback program by $50 billion with $42 billion in domestic cash on the balance sheet. 2014 brought a $12 billion raise with $18 billion in domestic cash and a $30 billion increase to the repurchase initiative.

It remains unclear whether Apple will in fact enlarge its now-$130 billion capital return program this year. The company spent $5 billion to repurchase 46 million shares in the first fiscal quarter of 2015 and retired an additional 8 million shares.

During the company's most recent earnings call, CEO Tim Cook said that Apple continues to "solicit feedback from a broad base of investors" and promised a program update would be announced during the next call in April.

Activist investor Carl Icahn, who has amassed a significant position in Apple, continues to advocate for increased buybacks. Icahn recently suggested that he would increase his current $203 price target for Apple shares.