Apple's tax bill could shave $27 billion off its worth

The European Union announced on Tuesday that it will force Ireland to collect over $14 billion in back taxes from Apple.

But what does this mean for Apple stock?

UBS analyst Steven Milunovich took a look at the impact in a note distributed to clients on Tuesday.

He concludes that taking out “$14bn of net cash” could have a “$3-5 impact on share price” on a discounted cash flow basis. This would amount to about $27 billion off of the company’s $571 billion market cap.

Discounted cash flow is a valuation model that Wall Street analysts use to predict the present value of companies based on future profits and cash flows.

“Certainly $14bn is toward the high end of expectations and could negatively affect the stock,” Milunovich writes.

There are lots of caveats. Apple says it will appeal the decision, and the proceedings could take years. However, the EU says that Ireland will still be forced to “recover the illegal state aid” in the meantime but that it could be placed into an escrow account pending an appeal.

It’s also possible that Apple might be able to reduce the total Irish bill if it pays more taxes in other EU jurisdictions.

“It’s important to note the case does not call into question Ireland’s tax rate or whether Apple violated any law. It’s simply a matter of whether the tax treatment should be allowed,” Milunovich writes.

Apple currently holds $231 billion in cash and marketable securities, with over 90% of that held overseas.

However, for now, UBS is still rating Apple as a “buy” with a price target of $115, but that could change as Apple is forced to restate its accounts in Ireland.

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