As we wait for Apple to announce Q3 08 earnings, the media hacks are falling into the predictable pattern of making some news they wait for the earnings report. The story du jour revolves around Steve Jobs, specifically his health and how thin he looked at WWDC. The pressure is growing on Apple to outline a succession plan.
Today's series of stories can be traced back to a piece in the New York Post:
Apple is due to report earnings today, but many investors and analysts remain as interested in news of the condition of the tech titan - who is a survivor of pancreatic cancer - as they are in the numbers themselves.
"Apple's hedge fund investors are very worried," said a Wall Street source who has spoken with some of the company's stakeholders.
One investor polled by The Post acknowledged to recently selling down his stake by "a few million shares" as a hedge in case any more bad news comes out about Jobs' health.
And the money quote:
Part of the reason for the concern over Jobs' health - aside from genuine sympathy - is that Apple has no succession plan in place. A good deal of Apple's worth is tied to its leader.
Silicon Alley Insider picks up where the New York Post left the story and runs with it:
But at some point Apple is going to have get more specific, and convince Wall Street that it has a clear idea of what it intends to do if needs to replace Steve. Even if he's in the the best of health -- and we hope he is -- he can't run Apple forever. Time to acknowledge that, and time start figuring out what will happen when the company needs new leadership.
So, does Apple need to announce a post Steve Jobs plan? Personally, I don't think so, and at any rate, it wouldn't make any difference. If there's a whisper of bad news from Apple concerning Jobs' health then the outcome is predictable - in the short term the stock will take a severe battering, but following that, Apple will continue doing what's been working for them in recent years and stock prices will recover. While I agree that Jobs was pivotal to Apple's turnaround, I'm pretty sure that Apple could continue to be successful with or without Jobs at the helm.
On a more personal note, I wish Steve Jobs all the best with his health. However, if his health is shaky, I'd hate to think that he feels compelled to stay on at Apple simply for the sake of the company's stock price. After all, there are more important things in life than money.