A Foolish Week of Telecom


Apple being sued -- or suing another company (often Samsung) -- usually involves patent infringement allegations. This time, though, the lawsuit is coming from an Apple shareholder.

Hedge fund manager David Einhorn's Greenlight Capital -- which was taken aback, like so many other Apple investors, by the recent tumble in Apple shares -- wants the company to share some of its $137 billion in cash with its shareholders.

The suit aims at Apple's proposed change to its charter, which would eliminate the possibility of issuing preferred stock. Einhorn is urging shareholders to vote the plan down at Apple's annual meeting later this month.

Einhorn described Apple to CNBC as hoarding its cash and investing only in the safest but lowest-yielding securities because of a "depression-era" mentality.

Woz, say it ain't so!
While we're at it, here's another shot at Apple, this one from the company's co-founder. While being interviewed by the German magazine WirtschaftsWoche, Steve Wozniak responded to a question about Apple's ability to stay ahead of its smartphone competitors:

"Currently we are, in my opinion, in the smartphone business with the features somewhat behind. Others have caught up. Samsung is a great competitor. But precisely because they are currently making great products." (Translated from the German using Google translate.)

A CEO is going away
Troubled Alcatel-Lucentreleased its earnings this week... along with its CEO.

Ben Verwaayen, who has headed the telecommunications equipment company for the last four years, will be leaving that post when a new CEO is put in place. He will also not run for reelection to the company's board when its annual meeting is held this spring.

Verwaayen's case for staying was not helped by Alcatel-Lucent's fourth quarter and yearly numbers. Revenues for 2012 were down by 5.7% over those for 2011, and the company had a net loss of $0.81 a share compared to a net profit of $0.49 a share for 2011.

"... [I]t was clear to me that now is an appropriate moment for the Board to seek fresh leadership to take the company forward," Verwaayen said.

Same old, same old
Revenues grew a bit in the fourth quarter of 2012 for Sprint Nextel , $9 billion compared to $8.7 billion for Q4 2011. However, its net loss remained the same at $1.3 billion for the same periods.

Sprint also had to admit that its touted improvement plan for its 3G and 4G networks, the so-called "Network Vision," has not hit its marks.

"We are behind our original objectives with Network Vision," Sprint CEO Dan Hesse confessed during the company's earnings conference call.

Good news, though. Sprint's loss of $0.44 a share did not surpass the consensus estimate of analysts polled by Businessweek.

A Yank invades the U.K.
Liberty Global chairman John Malone will soon be facing off with News Corp chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch -- that is, if Liberty Global's agreement to purchaseVirgin Media for $23.3 billion passes regulatory muster.

News Corp's BSkyB is the current pay TV leader in the U.K., followed by Virgin Media.

Malone, once the second-largest holder of News Corp -- Murdoch was No. 1 -- has said he would love to have an operation in the U.K., but has been wary of Murdoch's power.

"It used to be a given, a saying in the industry: don't ever bid against Rupert Murdoch for anything Rupert wants, because if you win, you lose. You will have paid way too much," Malone said in 2011 at the time of News Corp's phone hacking scandal.

Sayonara, Japan
, the company formerly known as Research In Motion, is essentially pulling out of Japan, according to a company statement:

"Japan is not a major market for BlackBerry and we have no plans to launch BlackBerry 10 devices there at this time. However, we will continue to support BlackBerry customers in Japan."

The Japanese business daily Nikkei reported BlackBerry's share of the Japanese market has fallen from 5% to 0.3%.

In your Face(book)
The good news for many buyers of low-cost white-label Android smartphones around the world is this: There may be no need to download the app for the ubiquitous social networking site Facebook .

The bad news is: They may not be able to get rid of the app because it could be embedded into their smartphones' chipsets.

Chinese semiconductor maker Spreadtrum Communications is partnering with Facebook to put its app into the turnkey smartphone platforms that Spreadtrum sells to makers of inexpensive handsets. Those phones are aimed at the growing smartphone markets in Latin America, Africa, India, and Southeast Asia.

"Working with Spreadtrum will extend Facebook's reach in emerging markets, leveraging the rapid shift from feature phones to smartphones that is now taking place globally," said Vaughan Smith, Facebook's vice president of mobile partnerships, in a Spreadtrum press release.

There's no doubt that Apple is at the center of technology's largest revolution ever, and that longtime shareholders have been handsomely rewarded with over 1,000% gains. However, there is a debate raging as to whether Apple remains a buy. The Motley Fool's senior technology analyst and managing bureau chief, Eric Bleeker, is prepared to fill you in on both reasons to buy and reasons to sell Apple and what opportunities are left for the company (and more importantly, your portfolio) going forward. To get instant access to his latest thinking on Apple, simply click here now.

The article A Foolish Week of Telecom originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Dan Radovsky has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Apple and Facebook. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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