Options Firecrackers for the Fourth: Apple and CA, Inc. Facing Very Different Investigations (AAPL, CA)

Includes: AAPL, CA
by: Belvedere

A couple of firecrackers on this last day of trading before the Fourth of July: Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and CA, Inc. (NASDAQ:CA) both announced options dating investigations of their own. But that’s a broad categorization: they’re pretty different animals, both the companies and the options issues. Apple’s been the toast of the Silicon Valley set; on the other coast, CA, Inc. has been the toast of the accounting restatement set. The differences in their option dating issues might be just as wide.

According to the press release and this Wall Street Journal article, Apple seems to be launching the now-standard special investigation under the direction of outside directors looking at irregularities in timing, and they mention one option grant in particular to Steve Jobs. The information is short on details, but sounds like the kind of heads-up seen so often before.

The CA investigation is unusual compared to what we’ve seen so far: some options may have been granted at one date, but employees didn’t get notified until up to two years later. Can’t recall anyone else having that problem, but it’s a doozy in terms of size: maybe catch-up restatements in the hundreds of millions. The underlying mechanics are that you don’t really have a complete grant to be measured until the grant has been communicated to the employees. A two year gap can leave room for quite a bit of appreciation in the value of the stock (and the intrinsic value of the options) from the time it was approved by the board and the time the employees found out, which is why there’s such a dramatic catch-up.

AAPL 1-yr chart:

AAPL 1-yr

CA 1-yr chart:

CA 1-yr