Has Tim Cook become a liability at Apple?

“I fully recognize that, despite all the noise, Apple (AAPL) still dominates. I spend meaty chunks of my day expressing this opinion,” Rocco Pendola writes for TheStreet.

“But that reality means nothing to Wall Street, the financial media and public opinion,” Pendola writes. “Tim Cook has lost control of the conversation. Fair or unfair, it is what it is. Cook needs to reestablish control as soon as possible, assuming he ever had control in the first place and he’s capable of regaining it.”

Pendola writes, “As much as I subscribe to the notion that Tim Cook has a company to run, I also realize he has to play the game. He must, like Steve Jobs did, manage the stock price and public perception while making it appear as if he is not managing the stock price and public perception. Running a company like Apple is as much about participating in the theatre of rhetoric as it is running a company like Apple. If Cook cannot own the debate, he becomes a liability.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote last Friday:

If this continues, Tim Cook will quickly go from worrying that his seat is getting quite hot to how to keep his head off a stick.

When Tim Cook became Apple CEO on August 24, 2011, AAPL hit a day high of $378.96. AAPL currently stands at $430.53 [$423.63]. That’s a gain of $51.57 [$44.67] or 13.6% [11.8%]. If this thing dips below $400…

Steve Jobs had no leash; Tim Cook’s, while long, grows shorter as shareholders watch the red ink flow. (We get email: a growing number of AAPL shareholders are not happy.)

Apple shareholders should be patient. This swoon is not based on Apple’s fundamentals or performance (save for Cook & Co.’s total mishandling of the new iMac launch, causing Apple to largely miss the entire Christmas sales season and which, it bears mentioning, would have turned last quarter’s “miss” into a “beat,” hence AAPL would likely be closer to knocking on $800 than $400 today. It would have been nice for someone to ask Tim about that little fsck up during the recent shareholders’ meeting. We would’ve liked to hear his answer). That parenthetical item aside, Cook surely has a plan and has already run Apple for years, including for much of the time Steve was sick. No need to even begin thinking of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, yet.

So, patience, patience… but regardless: Cook & Co. need to up their game, not only PR-wise (staunching misguided speculation, blunting rampant fomenting, answering critics, producing better marketing, etc.), but in terms of releasing some meaningful products in a much more timely fashion. The quicker, the better.

Here’s to looking back on all this ASAP as a momentary (albeit nearly half a year now) blip from which many ultimately profited and not the precursor to a stock market crash.

Related articles:
Apple shares fall to lowest close since January 2012 – March 1, 2013
As Apple’s nears 40% collapse, a lesson in market psychology – March 1, 2013
The last 6 times Tim Cook has talked, Apple’s stock has dropped – March 1, 2013
Apple shares hit new 52-week low – March 1, 2013
Apple’s ‘disappointing’ quarter the most profitable quarter for a tech company in history – February 7, 2013
Apple CEO Tim Cook: ‘No technology company has ever reported these kinds of results’ – January 24, 2013
Apple’s all-time record quarterly earnings disappoint – January 23, 2013
After posting new all-time record revenue, Apple shares collapse in after-hours trading – January 23, 2013
Apple reports record results: $54.5 billion revenue, $13.1 billion profit, $13.81 EPS – January 23, 2013

71 Comments

  1. I totally agree with MDN’s take. As an AAPL shareholder myself, the only thing I’ve been truly mad at Cook over is his handling of the iMac launch last fall, as that was truly a f-ing disaster in every way imaginable. As long as that egregious error is not duplicated anytime soon, I’m all on board with remaining patient for now.

    1. It is not only the FUBAR iMac update, which was just the latest in a long line of gaffes.

      Not only is Apple designing form over function, they are designing stuff that even their contract builders cannot make on a scale to suit the market.

      To whom it may concern @ Apple:
      Most of us don’t give a shit how thin the edge of an iMac is but wouldn’t mind it being a little more user serviceable or upgradeable. Most beyond the blogs do not give a shit if a laptop is 1/32nd of an inch thinner than a competitor if the thing burns your legs or cooks it’s own circuits.

      Tone down the PR hype and get back to making world class products that are worthy of the Apple logo.

      1. I think you are failing to think about the big picture. I didn’t say failing to see, cause only Apple knows where they are headed.

        You may not care about how thin the edge is, others may kvetch about the new position for an anodizing specialist, since its only about color.

        As Apple leads the way in new manufacturing processes and their many advantages, like the clarity of the display the new thin edge laminating , you will see the huge reveal and the big payoff in about 5 years.

        Then all of the stuff like liquid metal, thin edge laminate production, the new anodizing they are working on, and others we don’t even know about will play out in a huge way. HUGE like another groundbreaking, category shattering, OMG how did they do that product. The kind wallstreet says Apple must produce every 4-5 weeks if they want to survive against competition.

        It will promptly be misunderstood, panned by critics, condemned by Wallstreet, sell billions with 100’s of billions of revenue, record breaking profits all around, and the stock will still drop cause of this “last desperate grasp by Apple to remain relevant amidst the commanding marketshare and zero profit grasp of Android” in other words, business as usual.

  2. Nice $400 stock, like I have said for a very long time- much to the amusement of the $1,000/share pimps and fanbois back when it was $600-700/ share.

    We have $22 and change to go and people are not laughing or calling me delusional anymore.

    Until Apple gets it’s head out of it’s ass and shows a clear path out of the aimless drift and cannot shoot straight releases of late it will continue to languish. Tim Cook is an operations guy who can make the trains run on time- he is not a visionary or leader.

    1. You are correct except for one thing. He failed to make the train run on time at a very critical moment: The holiday launch of the most beautiful desktop computer ever made. That is when Tim became a liability. Most people can see that he fails as a visionary leader. Steve didn’t hire him for that. He hired him to make the trains run on time. When he failed at that also, he became a liability.

    2. Okay, I’ll bite: When the stock hits $400 what has changed in the products, the promotion or the growth opportunities in markets where Apple competes? If all of those forces acting on Apple’s growth opportunities are not related to the share price, how does an arbitrary stock price change anything? You won’t buy in at $422 because the opportunity for growth is $22 below some other stock where you are investing? I realize “agent provocateur” was probably chosen to be a thorn in the side of the way others think, but it’d be more impactful if there was some explanation for why Apple’s head will get out of the dark cavity and into the light just because the stock price hits a certain threshold.

      1. Apple’s assets- real and implied are worth $400. In the hands of a visionary with the chops to execute it can soar quite high. In the hands of a suit it can become Ballmer Era Microsoft with better styling and marketing.

    3. My, you are getting close indeed, and I said it would stop around $450 and hover there. Mind you I am not worried either way, I’ll save that for when it gets to the $300 mark, if it gets there. Now you might be right about it hitting $400. Don’t get the champagne out just yet, eyeing the bottle might cause you to lose your focus.

      1. I take no joy in seeing Apple stock decline in value.

        What I do no see from Apple is a coordinated view of what Apple wants to do and become. Apple also has been sloppy in the Quality Control of software and has trampled on many critical markets when making changes, such as the abrupt Final Cut changes (iMovie Pro Vista Edition).

        It has looked like amateur hour on many fronts for quite some time now. Not only that, Apple looks fat and lazy instead of lean and hungry. The smart, scrappy geek has become a snooty frat boy in his daddy’s Ferrari.

        1. Yes, I think many of us don’t really like what’s happening with the stock price. I had a model in my mind a few years around the first bout of cancer that Steve Jobs had and I said to myself that no one will fill his shoes and that the company will take a real kicking once he’s gone. Fortunately he survived that for a while, but I still think that the events we are seeing are still reminiscent of the loss of Steve Jobs. This sort of stuff takes time to get over, 5-10 years. I think that as long as the team and the DNA is strong Apple will survive.

          I expected and anticipated the missteps, after all it’s a big stress on any team that loses it’s leader, it’s captain. Right now for Apple to really, really survive is not dependent on Tim Cook, but for the entire Apple team to bring out the power to be their best, for themselves, and for the rest of the world. I wait to see what the Apple DNA can come up with out of that pipeline. Until then I respect their secrecy and darn tooting I will be patient to wait it out. It took years for Apple to step out of Microsoft’s shadow. It will probably take just as long to step out of Steve Jobs’ shadow if not longer.

          Meanwhile it does make a good opportunity to buy.

  3. Tim Cook is not the problem. Stupid anal-ists writing opinionated B.S. for there own personal gain is the problem. Then compounded by the media who publishes there worthless garbage spreading fact less non-sense everywhere.

  4. While I am reluctantly in favor of same-sex marriages, I can’t see why a company such as Apple needs to endorse this. If it is the law, then any company should live by it and certainly not discriminate its own workers when they stay inside the law.

  5. Cook should articulate a clear forward looking strategy instead of mouthing off oft repeated platitudes about innovative, exciting new products, which is frankly boring to listen to, and doesn’t tell me more of anything about Apple that I don’t already know.

    We need more showmanship, not less.

  6. Tim, does a lifeguard tell a person who is drowning “be patience”? To do nothing and screw up the up grade of everything in front of Christmas is on you. We were told that this was your strongest skill. It is time to do something to stop the decimation of our investment in Apple. Man, grow a pair and step up and do your job.

    Maybe take a billion a day and buy some AAPL stock stating “Here and no lower!” MAN DO ANYTHING SOON!

    1. We have gone from students studding Steve Jobs and the rise of Apple to this. I can’t begin to tell you how sad this financial disaster has become. Maybe a little less sitting with the First Lady and the public social programs support that may offend some investors. Try, maybe, just being involved with products, devices, software and services that Apple supplies. The other stuff do with your own time and money. Tim, “be patient”, when you are no longer at Apple, you will have all the time in the world to DO THINGS THAT DO NOT HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH APPLE.

  7. Yet more manipulation, don’t fall for this MDN.

    “Public opinion” is as high as ever, with Apple sitting at #1 in Fortune’s “most admired company” charts. So that’s bullshit.

    Wall Street and the financial media never liked Steve Jobs (and the feeling was mutual), so it wouldn’t – and shouldn’t – be different with Tim Cook.

  8. Apple need to call the BS that flows everyday from WSJ, NYT, Forbes, Reuters, etc. The innuendo, fairy tales and manipulation needs to stop.

    Take a page out of Jon Stewarts’ game-book and fight corruption with wit. To this end, Apple should create a page on their website called “Bullshit Mountain Page”. Add all articles that are PROVEN to be BS to this page. That would be most of what WSJ and NYT write. Over time the BS Mountain page will build and build and we will be able to see who has the biggest bullshit mountain. My guess would be WSJ very closely followed by NYT. Then on each Q conference call Tim could present the “BS Mountain” numbers along with iPhone and iPad numbers.

    1. Investors are looking at the future, not the present, and they don’t see a strong future for AAPL with Tim at the helm. That’s what this is about; not customer satisfaction in 2012. You suggest Tim uses wit? The last joke he attempted was about Al Gore inventing the internet. Last week.

  9. If Tim is smart he won’t worry about the stock and keep his eye on the ball.

    The biggest mistake ever would be caring about the stock price and focusing on it. That is what is wrong with every craptastic company that is publicly owned.

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