But David Einhorn is no closer to getting the preferred shares he's been lobbying for
FORTUNE — Three days after he heard the case, U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan ruled against Apple AAPL and for David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital in a dispute that generated a lot of heat but shed no light on the issue Apple investors care most about: What the company plans to do with the $137 billion in cash and marketable securities it has stockpiled.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Judge Sullivan had already indicated that Greenlight was likely to prevail on the question of whether Apple erred by lumping three different issues into one proposition in the proxy for its Feb. 27 shareholders meeting. In Friday’s decision he ruled that not allowing shareholders to vote separately on those issues — and send a message to management about how they felt about them — was harm that the court could prevent by deciding in Greenlight’s favor.
The judge was not moved by Apple’s argument that it would cost $3 million to mail out a new proxy form. Apple could have avoided the cost if it had properly worded its proxy in the first place, he wrote, and can avoid it now if it postpones the vote until next year’s shareholders meeting.
But despite the win, the suit brings Einhorn no closer to getting Apple to issue the perpetual preferred stock he’s been lobbying for. The lawsuit did, however, get the attention of Apple CEO Tim Cook (who last week dismissed it a “silly sideshow”) and of the Apple shareholders who tuned in Thursday for Einhorn’s 60-minute conference call in which he pitched his preferred shares — now rebranded “iPrefs” — as a way for the company and its shareholders to have their cake and eat it too.