Apple has more money than it needs, according to CEO Tim Cook, who indicated on Tuesday that the tech giant is edging closer to a dividend.



CUPERTINO, Calif. (TheStreet) -- Apple(:AAPL) has more money than it needs, according to CEO Tim Cook, who indicated on Tuesday that the gadget maker's edging closer to a dividend.

"We have more cash than we need to run the business on a daily basis," he explained, during a keynote at the Goldman Sachs(:GS) Technology and Internet Conference, adding that the company's dividend discussions are proceeding apace. "It is being discussed more now, and in greater detail."

Tim Cook, Apple's CEO

Apple stopped paying a dividend in 1995, although, with a cash position of almost $100 billion, the tech giant has recently come under pressure to reinstate the payment.

Whereas his predecessor, Steve Jobs, avoided dividends, Cook has already hinted that he may carve off some of Apple's vast cash haul. "I have said since becoming CEO that I am not religious about this," he explained. "We're in very active discussions at the board level about what we're going to do."

The CEO's comments will fuel speculation that Apple may make a dividend announcement at its annual shareholder meeting on Feb. 23. Pointedly, Cook also asked for "patience" from investors so that Apple's board can deal with the dividend issue "in a deliberate way."

Cook, however, acknowledged that Apple doesn't like to part with its cash. "We spend our money like it's our last penny - I think that shareholders want that," he said, before quipping that, "we're not going to have a toga party or do something outlandish."

In keeping with company tradition, Cook divulged little of Apple's product roadmap during his 47-minute presentation, but gave a hint about its rumored iTV technology, said to be on deck for later this year.

The Auburn grad discussed the existing Apple TV offering, which he admitted has been something of a "hobby" for the Cupertino, Calif.-based firm. "For those of us that use it, we have always thought that there's something there and if we keep following our intuition and pull that string, it could be larger," he said. "We need something that could go more main market."

Cook also touched on labor issues within Apple's supply chain.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based firm said earlier this week that the Fair Labor Association will conduct audits of the company's Chinese supplier network, including Foxconn factories in Shenzhen and Chengdu. The audits come after allegations that Apple suppliers committed labor abuses.

"The first thing that I want everyone to know - Apple takes working conditions very, very seriously," he said. "We care about every worker."

Cook also described the audit program as "probably the most extensive" in the history of mass manufacturing. "We know that people have a high expectation of Apple - we have an even higher expectation of ourselves," he added.

Apple shares crept up $2.11, or 0.41%, to $511.57 in extended trading on Tuesday.

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

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