Thursday, January 26, 2012

Two Articles on Apple

It's an awkward juxtaposition, to say the least. First the New York Times writes about the treatment of Chinese workers who assemble the iPhones, iPads and so on:
In the last decade, Apple has become one of the mightiest, richest and most successful companies in the world, in part by mastering global manufacturing. Apple and its high-technology peers — as well as dozens of other American industries — have achieved a pace of innovation nearly unmatched in modern history.
However, the workers assembling iPhones, iPads and other devices often labor in harsh conditions, according to employees inside those plants, worker advocates and documents published by companies themselves. Problems are as varied as onerous work environments and serious — sometimes deadly — safety problems.
Employees work excessive overtime, in some cases seven days a week, and live in crowded dorms. Some say they stand so long that their legs swell until they can hardly walk. Under-age workers have helped build Apple’s products, and the company’s suppliers have improperly disposed of hazardous waste and falsified records, according to company reports and advocacy groups that, within China, are often considered reliable, independent monitors.

Then these news:
Apple Inc. has Wall Street’s full attention after hinting at plans for the company’s $100 billion cash pile that may lead to stockholders receiving a dividend.

Apple is “actively discussing” uses for its cash, including a dividend, buyback, acquisitions and supply chain investments, Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer told analysts and investors yesterday in an earnings conference call.

The comments were a welcome sign for investors who have called for a dividend as Cupertino, California-based Apple has added to its balance sheet. Apple’s $97.6 billion in cash and short- and long-term investments is larger than the market value of all but 26 companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index. The total could reach $150 billion by year-end without giving money back to shareholders, said David Rolfe, chief investment officer of Wedgewood Partners Inc., an Apple investor.