While the tech world is talking about Apple tablet PCs, iPhones and such ahead of Macworld, Wall Street rumors are percolating about Steve Jobs' health.
In a blog post recapping 10 things he's hearing on Wall Street, Doug Kass, a general partner for two investment partnerships: Seabreeze Partners L.P. and Seabreeze Partners Short L.P., notes a rumor that:
"Apple (AAPL) will announce that Steve Jobs' health has deteriorated (he has had pancreatic cancer) and that he will be taking a leave of absence from the company." Update: See note on this quote at end of post.
That tidbit is on RealMoney Silver, which is a pay site, so the link will only work for subscribers and those interested in subscribing.
I'd stress a few points:
1. Whether the rumor is legit or not will be known as soon as Jobs take the stage;
2. The rumor could be something circulated by short sellers, those who bet against stocks. Shorts have been shellacked by Apple shares of late;
3. Nevertheless, it's an interesting tidbit to be floating ahead of MacWorld;
4. Kass has no positions in Apple.
So take Jobs health rumor for what it's worth--and a big grain of salt.
Meanwhile, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster breaks out his crystal ball for Macworld in a research note and ranks the certainty on a scale of 1 to 10. Here they are:
Almost Certain within 6 months:
1. iPhone entering production phase of 12 million units (Certainty rank: 9 out of 10);
2. iTV ($299) release at Macworld with some improvements from the September debut (10 out of 10);
Likely (in the next 6-12 months):
3. iPhone with candy-bar form factor (9 out of 10);
4. Widescreen iPod with touch-sensitivity and wireless features (7 out of 10);
5. Second smartphone iPhone model with integrated keyboard (7 out of 10);
6. iSight camera, 4GB or 8GB storage on the iPhone (6 out of 10);
7. Multiple carriers as iPhone providers (vs. Cingular only or MVNO (6 out of 10);
A Stretch (a year to 18 months away):
8. Ultra-portable 12" MacBook Pro (4 out of 10);
9. Radio-transparent material used for iPhone casing (3 out of 10). This is very interesting as Munster opines that iPod casings would make poor mobile phone casings. In other words, Apple has to find casings that would better allow radio waves to penetrate the exterior of an Apple phone.
10. iPhone featuring 'iChat Mobile' video and instant messaging (2 out of 10);
11. OSX 10.5 Leopard release at Macworld (3 out of 10).
Addendum: As pointed out by a reader in Talkback, the quote has been altered by TheStreet.com. The original quote from the RealMoney Silver blog, which is the unedited Kass has (see screenshot):
"Apple (AAPL) will announce that Steve Jobs' health has deteriorated (he has had pancreatic cancer) and that he will be taking a leave of absence from the company."
TheStreet.com, the free sister site that picked up the Kass post and ran it as a column, edited the quote to:
"Apple will announce that Steve Jobs will be taking a leave of absence from the company."
I have no idea why the quote was edited on TheStreet.com as Kass was relaying the unvarnished rumor circulating. The initial quote about the rumor is still on RealMoney Silver.