Apple hoarding cash for future splash

Apple overlord Steve Jobs yesterday told shareholders that they wouldn't be getting a windfall from the company's huge reserves of cash.

Following last year's annual investor gathering - at which everyone's primary concern was the messianic leader's state of health and whether his inability to steer the good ship Apple would lead to the company's rapid sinking - Jobs was very firmly back at the helm.

Asked if he was returning to the company in a limited capacity after his liver transplant, Jobs responded with a terse and emphatic "No", having previously explained that, in his absence, Tim Cook had done a fine job and that Apple hadn't missed a beat.

As is usually the case with these things, the meeting was partly hijacked by tree huggers and hippies and Jobs dismissed repeated questions about the company's environmental record by suggesting they might like to read Apple's recent report on supplier sustainability, and pointing out that while other companies and organisations just make promises, Apple was actually doing something.

Jobs claimed that Apple leads the way in recycling, reducing toxins, using smaller packaging, and workers’ rights, saying: "It’s the right thing to do from an environmental point of view; it’s the right thing to do from a business point of view."

Asked whether the company would be using part of its $40 billion hoard of cash to pay shareholder dividends, Jobs pointed out that having piles of wonga in the bank was good for the company, because it brought stability in an uncertain market, allowed the company to make bold acquisitions without going cap in hand to the banks, and allowed it to be technologically risky with projects like the iPad.

Perhaps the most telling comment of the whole event was when one investor asked Jobs "What keeps you up at night?".

"Shareholder meetings," he joked, before saying "Apple requires stability in the world. People aren’t going to worry about which laptop to buy if they can’t afford dinner, can’t afford to send their kids to school, can’t afford textbooks.

"There are things much bigger than us that are out of our control. So we try to just do the best we can.”