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Carl Icahn Is Short Sighted on Apple (Update 2)

Given Icahn's stake in the company, (Icahn didn't reveal the size of his stake on Twitter, but it's been reported to be worth at least $1 billion, and perhaps more than $1.5 billion), he likely doesn't have the clout to advocate further change for an expanded buyback.

Icahn has pushed for change at other tech companies, and is currently locked in a battle over the fate of Dell (DELL). Apple however is a different beast, considering it's the largest company in the S&P 500 and far bigger than anything he's gone up against before.

UBS analyst Steve Milunovich who rates Apple "buy" with a $500 price target, believes Icahn may be unsuccessful in his attempts. "We think that unlikely with Apple already repurchasing about 5% of shares annually and offering a 2.5% dividend yield," Milunovich wrote in his note. "There doesn't appear to be much to agitate for aside from a larger buyback unless Icahn thinks Cook isn't doing a good job."

Apple doesn't need distractions from Icahn or other activist investors right now. Icahn tweeted that him and Apple CEO Tim Cook planned "to speak again shortly," suggesting that Icahn isn't done pressing on this issue.

It's possible that Apple does expand its buyback program in a few years, but that's quite a ways away. The focus on Apple right now, and over the next six months, should be new products. Apple is slated to announce a new iPhone perhaps as soon as Sept. 10, and a new iPad and iPad mini could come in October.

Otherwise, Apple becomes just like any other company, and that's not something shareholders, including Icahn, want to see.

--Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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