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Warren Buffett educated Tim Cook, Steve Jobs about the benefits of stock buybacks

Apple CEO Tim Cook shared details about Apple's start of stock buybacks, and has confirmed that Warren Buffett put Apple on the track to do so —and the "Oracle of Omaha" tried to put the company on the path years before.

Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett


Speaking to CNBC at the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder's meeting in a broadcast interview, Cook elaborated on the time leading up to Apple's decision to start the stock buybacks, and how we ultimately made the decision to do so at the end of 2012.



"I'd been in the CEO spot maybe a year or so, we had a growing amount of cash, we had crossed the $100 billion mark, if my memory is correct. When I don't have experience with something, I make a list of the people that I think that are the smartest people that I can contact to get advice," recounted Cook. "Warren was on the top of the list. As you can imagine, I hadn't met Warren before."

"I get his number, I call out in Omaha, and I wasn't sure that he'd take the call. Call out of the blue, he doesn't know me from Adam," said Cook. "But he took the call, and I had a great conversation with him, and that was the first time that I met Warren."

"He was very clear to me, he said 'let me just cut through it, if you believe that your stock is undervalued, you should buy your stock,'" Cook said, recounting the call. "I thought that was just the simplest way to look at it."

Cook and Buffett also both confirmed during the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders' meetings and resultant interviews that Steve Jobs was also given the same advice about buying back stock. Cook took the advice, and Jobs continued to reject it for years.

The Wall Street Journal called the repurchase programs a "bad investment" in late 2018. That didn't stop Apple from announcing more, with an additional $75 billion program announced during the April 30 earnings announcement.

Other Apple-related tidbits that have come out of the shareholder's meeting include the fact that Apple buys a small company every few weeks, and Apple is now more of a "consumer company" than a tech firm, as it has evolved.