Has Steve Jobs become too much of a liability for Apple shareholders?

“Several analysts rushed out overnight updates after Apple’s surprise announcement Tuesday that Steve Jobs won’t be delivering his usual Macworld keynote next month,” Philip Elmer-DeWitt reports for Fortune.

But Yair Reiner at Oppenheimer & Co. did something we’ve never seen before,” Elmer-DeWitt reports. “Not only did he downgrade Apple (AAPL) to ‘perform,’ or neutral, but he withheld his 12 – 18 month price target for the stock — replacing it with a big NA — until he gets some questions answered.”

“‘Six months have passed since Jobs appeared at the Apple Developers Conferences looking drawn and unwell,’ Reiner wrote in a note to clients entitled ‘One Scare Too Many,'” Elmer-DeWitt reports. Reiner wrote, “It’s past time for Apple to either disclose the state of his health or elaborate a viable plan for eventually transferring power. Until such time, we can no longer continue to recommend Apple as a long-term investment.'”

Elmer-DeWitt reports, “Reiner isn’t the only one unnerved by the Jobs news. Investors sent Apple shares down nearly 7%, to $88.95 a share, in midday trading Wednesday.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take:

By SteveJack

Let’s face it: the way things are today, short of Jobs retiring, or God forbid, dropping dead, nothing is going to change the pattern of Steve Jobs health scares, regardless of whether they’re real, imagined, or invented manipulations intended to affect the price of Apple stock.

Jobs could walk on water this afternoon and some people would voice “concern” that he only accomplished it because he’s lost so much weight that he’s about to ascend into heaven.

There’s only so much Apple shareholders can take. An extremely well-positioned, successful company having its share price driven down artificially whenever some short seller desires to cry wolf, er… “gaunt” is not something serious, or even casual, investors welcome. Those who are charged with keeping order (SEC) in the markets are obviously incompetent, AWOL, or both. Perhaps, Jim Cramer and many others (see below for one example) are right in calling loudly for reinstatement of the uptick rule?

The chairman of the SEC [Christopher Cox] serves at the appointment of the president and has betrayed the public’s trust. If I were President today, I would fire him… Mismanagement and greed became the operating standard while regulators were asleep at the switch. The regulators were asleep, my friends, they were not working for you. [The SEC has allowed abusive short-selling, to turn] our markets into a casino.Senator John McCain, September 18, 2008

So, the headline asks the ultimate question: In this current climate, with stock-price-affecting health “concerns,” real or not, that can only be alleviated via retirement or death, and in the absence of the uptick rule, has Steve Jobs become too much of a liability for Apple shareholders? With his “health” sitting there as ammunition to be used whenever the shorts desire to fire off a few rounds, can Steve Jobs remain as Apple CEO without the uptick rule in place?

We get email here. Some AAPL shareholders are not happy with what they consider to be obvious and uncontrolled manipulation.

In an attempt to achieve utter clarity, here’s the Either/Or statement: Either Steve Jobs has to go or the uptick rule has to return. Without one or the other, Apple shareholders are at the mercy of forces that have absolutely nothing to do with the company’s current and future performance. AAPL stock simply cannot be recommended, if its performance has little or nothing to do with the company’s actual results. Cancel or Allow?

SteveJack is a long-time Macintosh user, web designer, multimedia producer and a regular contributor to the MacDailyNews Opinion section.

43 Comments

  1. Oh please. What a crock, MDN. Are you guys becoming link whores too? If you read other news, you would have noted that CNBC’s Jim Goldman reported that informed sources made it clear to him that Apple’s pull-out from MacWorld is a business decision, and DOES NOT have anything to do with Steve Job’s health, good or bad.

    If you work on trade shows as I do, you would be apalled at the cost charged by show organizers, and the hideous costs related to doing business at a trade show. From union fees for drayage, to the obscene charges to exhibitors for electrical services or Internet (a simple T-1 share for two days can cost even a small exhibitor over $1,000 at a big trade show for one connection) and more, trade shows are a very expensive proposition these days.

    As it is, Apple has trade shows daily across the world. It’s called THE APPLE STORE. And the company may have learned that they can generate an equal amount of media coverage via smaller special events and at a lower cost. So why spend all the money on MacWorld?

    If you are an Apple employee, you might be thankful. The savings on MacWorld might save your job.

    Meanwhile, you have dickheads like Yair Reiner attempting to hold Apple hostage until the company capitulates, apologizes and gives some two-bit analyst what they demand. Um, who the frick appointed this frigtard to be God? And why doesn’t this dipshit drop a similar bomb on Warren Buffet, who has for years stated that he has a succession plan, and that it will remain an absolute secret until the genial Mr. Buffet either retires or dies? Can you say, “double-standard”, boys and girls?

    Frankly, I am tired of this crap. Judge a company on its earnings, not rumors, lies, assumptions and innuendos. And shame on SteveJack and MDN for this garbage. You are becoming the very link whores that you despise.

    Please wake me up when real news comes around. Otherwise, you’ll just continue to be fodder for the short sellers and hedge funds waiting to prey on your fears and ignorance.

  2. Yair Reiner at Oppenheimer & Co. is an idiot… his company is a train wreck (their muni funds dropped 40% this year!!!). He is probably part of the manipulate- Apple -stock group. I wouldn’t hit a dog in the ass with his crappy opinions.

  3. Ha! the ultimate artificial construction to bash a brilliant genius. Make up a bunch of hooey, illegally manipulate the stock, then blame Jobs: utter media corruption.

    It’s so bad and ridiculous it’s funny. Ppl are not THAT stupid.

  4. clue-by-four,

    Congratulations, you’ve missed MDN’s point entirely. Whoosh! Right over your tiny pea brain.

    Please apply the “clue-by-four” to your head repeatedly until you achieve basic reading comprehension skills or until you pass out whichever comes first.

  5. In short: NO.
    In long: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO…

    (yes, I stole that bit from Zero Punctuation yet again)

    I am beyond frustrated and annoyed with these same know-nothing idiots waving the “Jobs health” card around to easily manipulate the stock price for their own profit. It’s not Apple’s fault that the SEC are either not doing their job or are in on the scam.

    If “Apple shareholders” (including, apparently, some at MDN) are more concerned about what other people think, than they are about having the best person possible as CEO of Apple, then these “Apple shareholders” are complete morons.

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