Ten days after Google decided to signal its corporate virtue with the largest ever ESG bond issue to “fight racial inequality”, which was just another way of saying funding buybacks which will make the company’s ultra rich shareholders even richer, Apple – which at last check had just under $200 billion in cash (most of which however is still offshore) – announced it would also join the recent borrowing boom with its second major bond deal of the year.
Apple, which according to Bloomberg hasn’t borrowed in dollars more than once in a calendar year since 2017, is tapping the investment-grade market for the second time since May to take advantage of the record low rates it will have to pay as it prefund the next several billion in buybacls. Other tech giants such as Amazon.com and Google recently got in on the action, outdoing each other to set a new floor for yields.
As per the filed prospectus, the Cupertino company is selling bonds in four parts, of which the longest maturity, a 40-year security, may yield around 135 bps above Treasuries. The other tranches include a 5, 10 and 20 years bond.
According to Bloomberg, that debt will almost certainly come cheaper for Apple than it did for Amazon, which priced at 130 basis points over Treasuries, and could possibly rival Google’s spread of 108 basis points. Outside of tech, Visa and Chevron set record low rates on new issues earlier this week, but for bonds that mature sooner.
Like all of Apple’s prior bond sales, the company will use the proceeds almost exclusively to buy back stock and to a lesser extent, pay dividends, similar to its tech peers who lead the market in bond buybacks in the past three months; Apple will use Goldman, Barclays and JPMorgan as underwriters.
And yes, for those curious why 10Y rates are blowing out again today even as stocks fail to catch a bid, the answer is simple: rate locks as dealers short Treasurys ahead of the Apple offering to hedge rate risk.
The only question is whether the Fed, which has been on a record Apple bond buying spree buying no less than 8 CUSIPS in the past two months…
… will buy even more Apple bonds, in its ongoing crusade to fight inequality by making the rich richer.