Icahn currently has a non-binding proposal before Apple shareholders that promotes a $50 billion buyback over the next eight months to drive up the share price. Apple has urged its stockholders to vote down the proposal, pointing out that it is in the midst of a multi-year $60 billion repurchasing plan and arguing that it needs its massive war chest to fend off competitors and invest in new products.
Icahn had scaled back his demands from an original $150 billion buyback scheme after getting nowhere in meetings with Cook last year. Icahn has argued that Apple's huge cash reserves — $147 billion as of the end of the third quarter, most of it sequestered overseas — should be used to return value to shareholders, even if that meant Apple had to borrow to fund his proposal.
Icahn has criticized Apple's cash strategy, if not Cook directly, since August 2013 when he first revealed he had been buying Apple shares.
Apple should expect to remain a top priority for Icahn, even if he puts his spotlight on any number of other companies, Moorhead said. "Apple is the kind of company that Icahn loves to target, as in many ways Apple will make decisions that are good for end users or for long-term versus short-term gains," said Moorhead.
Apple will hold its annual shareholders meeting Feb. 28, when stockholders will vote on Icahn's proposal.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.