Don't Be Surprised If Apple's CFO Announces His Retirement At The Shareholder Meeting

Feb 27 2014, 2:12pm CST | by

Apple is holding its shareholder meeting on Friday, February 28. I’m expecting that it will mainly consist of the typical non-exciting business review with nothing important being announced. However, it would not surprise me if Peter Oppenheimer’s retirement is announced since he has been CFO since June 2004. (Note that my family and I own Apple shares and have sold put options, a bullish trade).

While in many ways a CFO leaving is important I believe Apple has been laying the groundwork for a transition. Prior to the previous two earnings conference calls Gary Wipfler, Apple’s Treasurer, was usually the only other executive besides Oppenheimer and Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, who were on the calls.

Starting with the October 2013 call Luca Maestri, Apple’s Corporate Controller, has been on the calls and for the January 2014 conference call he handled questions about operating expenses and margins. Maestri joined Apple in February 2013 after being Xerox’s CFO and as a side note since then Apple has become much more aggressive with its stock buyback program.

Oppenheimer joined Apple in 1996, became its CFO in June 2004 and is 51 years old. Fiscal 2005 was Oppenheimer’s first full year in the job and the company generated $13.9 billion in revenue and $1.65 billion in operating income. In fiscal 2013 these had increased to $171 billion (up 12.3x) and $49 billion (up 29.7x), respectively. Overall he has done a very good job growing the company and given the time commitments after ten years it would not surprise me to see him leave sometime this year and possibly at the shareholder meeting.

While Oppenheimer probably doesn’t need any more Apple stock to vest his September 2010 award for 100,000 shares fully vests in September while his November 2011 award for 75,000 shares fully vests in March 2016. It could be that he waits until September or that he stays on in an advisory role until then to help with the transition to receive the 100,000 shares or almost $53 million.

One indication for a CFO change that we don’t see is if Maestri has been meeting with institutional investors over the past six months. If he has been handling more of the chores that Oppenheimer would have done analysts and PMs probably won’t be fazed by Maestri taking over as long as he is viewed as being up to the task.

Follow me on Twitter @sandhillinsight. You can find my other Forbes posts here.

Source: Forbes Apple


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