"In Jobs We Trust"
Apple's stock (AAPL) closed down 6% today ($6.27) after the company announced in a press release late Tuesday that Chief Executive Steve Jobs would not be giving his traditional keynote address at the MacWorld Conference in January. The announcement quickly rekindled fears on Wall Street about Jobs' health. In addition the stock was downgraded by Oppenheimer which made investors even more skittish.
Karen Finerman, President of Metropolitan Capital Advisors expressed surprise at Apple's decision to pull Jobs out of the MacWorld keynote. Speculating that investors need to see proof that Jobs is healthy before the stock will recover.
"Until investors see Steve Jobs out there and healthy the stock will remain under pressure," speculates Karen Finerman. I’m surprised that Apple did something like this." Source: CNBC
It would appear that anything less than Steve Jobs showing up to walk on water in a very public display will not satisfy investors or analysts. Like it or not, Jobs has become an iconic persona tied to Apple's success. All eyes will remain on Jobs as the charismatic leader of the great Apple movement that's forever changed our culture and the way we relate to our personal technology. Jobs was elevated to the level of an immortal, a deity able to transcend the limitations of flesh and bone.
Once that illusion was shattered by very real health concerns, Jobs was transformed back to mere mortal status. Days traders have found a way to capitalize on his mortality, an Achilles heel able to sway Apple's net worth in a matter of minutes, no longer hours or days. The charismatic leadership provided by Jobs has trained shareholders to focus on one individual rather than Apple's experienced executive team as a whole.
The fact is, posting "gaunt," or "frail," or "Steve Jobs is ill" is the financial equivalent of yelling fire in a crowded movie house. And if that kind of thing is going to be tolerated, government should step in and either investigate the manipulators, or bring back the Uptick Rule," writes Jim Goldman for CNBC.
As Apple's CEO, Steve Jobs has an obligation to his shareholders to confound the media and the analysts alike by showing up and controlling the message he wants to send. Shareholders are paying a considerable dumb tax for his MacWorld exit without having a follow-up event scheduled prior to the announcement. Maybe requiring Jobs to walk on water is going a bit too far. But at the very least Jobs could show up to pass out a few hundred fishes and loaves to quiet the hungry masses who would just as soon eat him alive limb for limb.
The world is watching. I hope that Jobs' next steps are given more careful thought than his latest 'shot heard around the world, awkwardly timed on the eve of MacWorld. I want to believe.