Exxon Mobil is, from a market capitalization point of view (number of shares multiplied by share price), the most valuable company in the world. Quick, can you name its CEO without searching for it on the web? I couldn’t. Nor do I know anything about his health. How about the CEOs of Walmart, Deutsche Telecom, or General Motors? How about Apple? For many people, Apple is Steve Jobs and Steve Jobs is Apple (rightly or wrongly). So, the three paragraphs in this announcement today is having reverbarations around the world.
Jobs announced another medical leave of absence leaving COO Tim Cook in charge of day-to-day operations. Jobs’ timing is perfect even when announcing his medical leave of absence. Here’s how Jobs and Apple timed it.
1. Last week was the Verizon iPhone announcement. It was a Verizon event which Jobs did not attend. Cook did. This was seen as somewhat but not hugely unusual since Apple did not introduce a completely new product. It was, however, definitely big news that has been anticipated for months if not years.
2. Today (Jan. 17, 2011) is a U.S. national holiday (Martin Luther King Jr. Day). Stocks do not trade in the U.S. on this holiday. Apple’s stock is dropping on markets outside of the U.S. that are in a trading day. However, this means that some of the stock market shock is being absorbed outside of the U.S. first. The assumption may be that this will help cushion the fall when the U.S. stock market opens on Tuesday.
3. Apple will announce what is expected to be extremely good financial information tomorrow (Jan. 18, 2011) in their scheduled quarterly report. There’s already been a huge run-up on Apple stock in recent weeks. But, again, the thought is probably that the good quarterly report will help reduce the expected share price drop after the news about the health leave of absence.
Apple’s near future mobile picture appears reasonably clear regardless of Jobs’ day-to-day involvement. The iPad 2 looks like a certainty and it won’t surprise anyone to see an announcement of an iPhone 5 for release this summer.
Disclosure: I have held a small number of Apple shares along with other tech and non-tech stocks for years.