Apple shareholders approve Tim Cook equity grant; dividend to increase

Apple CEO, Tim Cook waves as he opens the door of the newly renovated Apple Store at Fifth Avenue on September 20, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Kena Betancur / AFP) (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

KENA BETANCUR | AFP | Getty Images

Apple shareholders on Tuesday voted to approve compensation for Apple executives, including an equity package announced last year that could net CEO Tim Cook 1 million new shares, if the company hits certain goals.

The vote was non-binding and advisory. Apple shareholders also voted down a shareholder proposal opposed by Apple that would compel the company to reduce executive pay compared to median Apple employee pay.

The votes, which were expected, are another sign that Apple’s shareholders are satisfied with Apple’s management and CEO. Apple, valued at over $2.1 trillion, recently reported a quarter with $114.4 billion in revenue and sales growth in every product category, even during a pandemic year.

Apple’s board strongly supported Cook’s pay package in a filing, citing a 867% return to shareholders, including dividends, from when he took over as Apple CEO in 2011 through September 2020.

Cook also said that Apple planned to increase the company’s dividend. Dividends totaled over $14 billion in the last four quarters, Cook said. The company paid a dividend of $0.205 per share in the last two quarters.

Covid-19 and Apple’s success as a business during a pandemic year was major theme of Cook’s remarks to shareholders. Last year, Cook said the pandemic was the most challenging environment Apple’s ever faced.

“A year later, you have to pause, and say wow,” Cook said.

Cook said in a question and answer session that while Apple had adapted well to remote work — Apple employees have been working from home since March — that the company still “can’t wait until we can gather together in the office again,” suggesting that Apple will still be office-focused after the pandemic, in comparison to rival tech companies that have announced plans to shift to a remote-work model.

Cook said that one advantage of working from an office was serendipitous interactions between employees.

Cook also talked about Apple’s acquisitions strategy. Cook said that Apple has acquired 100 companies over the last 6 years. Ultimately, Apple acquires a company every 3 to 4 weeks, Cook said, mostly aimed at acquiring technology and talent.

In response to a shareholder question about whether Apple faces regulatory challenges around its control of the iPhone App Store, Cook said that Apple doesn’t have a monopoly. “While scrutiny is always fair, accusations like these fall apart on a reasonable examination of the facts,” Cook said.

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