At least Apple used its own money to speculate on its stock. A lot of companies borrow money to buy their own stock. Like Apple, many of them have bought stock are prices far higher than current prices. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:
There’s a funny thing about buybacks: when stocks are rising (and are therefore more expensive), companies have zero doubts about repurchasing their own stock, especially if said purchase is funded with cheap debt. Of course, by repurchasing their stock, the price goes even higher making management’s equity-linked comp more valuable, which explains why management teams usually have no misgivings about allocating capital to this most simplistic of corporate uses of funds. However, when stocks fall, companies tend to clam down on buybacks due to fears that the drop may continue, forcing the CFO or Treasurer to explain his actions to the CEO or the board, and why they risked losses on capital (as well as getting a pink slip) instead of investing in “safer” corporate strategies like M&A, R&D or capex.
The irony, of course, is that companies should not be buying back stocks when the stock is rising (as that’s when it is more expensive), and accelerate repurchases when it is dumping. And yet, that virtually never happens in reality as management teams, like most investors and algos, tend to chase momentum and direction. Meanwhile, confused by underlying pricing mechanics, management – which is singlehandedly responsible for the levitation in the stock price with its buybacks – then watches its stock price tumble even more one stock repurchases are halted.