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Apple CEO urges long view on shareholder pain

Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook acknowledged on Wednesday that his shareholders were disappointed with a five-month slide of more than 30 per cent in the company's share price, but urged a focus on the longer term.

The world's most valuable technology corporation headed into its annual meeting at its Cupertino headquarters on shakier ground than it has been accustomed to in years, since the iPhone and iPad helped elevate the company to premier investment status.

Its southward-heading share price has lent weight to Wall Street's demand that it share more of its $137-billion cash and securities pile, a debate now spearheaded by outspoken hedge fund manager David Einhorn.

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Einhorn was not spotted at the meeting on Wednesday. Cook repeated that the company's board remained in "very very active" discussions about options for cash sharing.

"I don't like it either. The board doesn't like it. The management team doesn't like it," Cook told investors at the company's headquarters on 1 Infinite Loop.

But by focusing on the long term, revenue and profit will follow, he said.

Cook added that the company was working on new product categories, but, as usual, would not elaborate.

Speculation is rife on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley that the iPhone maker is working on a project to revolutionize the television and TV content, or a smart "iWatch."

Apple's stock was down 1.2 per cent to $443.60 in early afternoon trade. It is now down more than 35 per cent from its $702.10 September peak.

Despite a slip-sliding share price, dissatisfaction on the Street over its cash allocation strategy and uncertainty over its product pipeline, shareholders re-elected the entire board on Wednesday, and Cook won more than 99 per cent of the vote in preliminary results.

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