There is nothing that causes investor anxiety like uncertainty does. Uncertainty is even worse than declining sales. Apple (AAPL) has been the poster child of uncertainty. Although the company has exhibited 583% growth in its iPhone division and had an unprecedented 300,000,000 downloads at its App Store, the stock continues to drop. The root of this uncertainty can be attributed to two factors: first is the health of Steve Jobs; second is the perceived impact of the recession on Apple's high priced products. The Steve Jobs leave of absence eliminates the first and now it's time for Apple to eliminate the second, as only the best company in the world can do. To soothe the uncertainty that exists, Apple needs to replace their ridiculous game of forward looking guidance with increased real-time transparency.
We live in a society that is used to real-time data and yet Wall Street lags behind the times. Without realizing it, I think that this new norm of real-time information is the single greatest force behind the recent fear in the stock market. We are now accustomed to new technologies that keep us constantly up to date with friends, family, and global news, and yet companies like Apple aren't keeping us up to date...so we get nervous, especially in tough times.
Is there a way for Wall Street to catch up with the times? The solution is relatively simple. Provide investors with real-time data. Instead of calling us together to give us the big quarterly announcement that is already three weeks old, why don't you keep us in the loop on a weekly or even a daily basis. Everybody loves the daily best seller list at Amazon.com (AMZN). Give us an even more detailed report on Apple.com. Tell us how many iPhones were sold, how many Macs were sold, how many songs were downloaded, games downloaded, etc...
If Apple is as good as I think they are, this procedural change would leave the competition in the dust. It is my belief that this company is much more than just Steve Jobs. I think his vision has put this company on a path of dominance for at least the next 5 to 10 years. By implementing such a system of transparency, It would be crystal clear that they are in a league of their own and faring just fine without Mr. Jobs. But no, the company keeps that data to themselves and loses shareholder value as investors remain in the dark. No more dark.
Our country has entered a new era of change; hopefully Wall Street will follow suit. A dramatic change in transparency such as this would be just what President Obama was referring to when he said in his Inauguration address that it's time to 'make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age'. Professional athletes don't hide from their daily statistics, regular employees can't hide from theirs; why should Wall Street be any different? This is the direction that the world is headed and the sooner our financial system can get there the better.
Tune in to my post game analysis on today's Apple earnings call here (click on the Apple Indicator page). In today's fast paced world, we shouldn't have to wait every three months to update our numbers, it should be a daily occurrence. Who will be the first to provide this kind of data? My bet is on the new Apple.