Apple Clears Jobs by Bill Alpert
Highlighted companies: Apple Computer Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)
Summary: In Wall Street's eyes there is likely no CEO as critical to his company as Apple Computer Inc.'s (AAPL) Steve Jobs. Apple's annual report, released Friday, says Jobs was aware of misdated option grants, and even recommended some favorable grant dates, but "he did not receive or financially benefit from these grants or appreciate the accounting implications." The report places the blame on departed executives. Two of the problematic options were to Jobs, including a 2001 option award for 7.5 million shares dated October 19 instead of December 18. The lower stock price on the falsely claimed date made the options worth $22 million more. Apple records state the option award was approved at a special board meeting, but no meeting ever took place. Jobs never exercised the options -- in March 2003 he voluntarily canceled all options in return for 5M restricted shares of Apple stock. After the 2/1 stock split in February 2005 Jobs now holds 10M restricted shares of Apple stock, worth $775 million, making it hard to swallow Apple's claim that Jobs received no benefit from the grants; it seems investigation chair Al Gore "would have had to have found Jobs' fingerprints all over the smoking gun -- and videos of Jobs stuffing it back in his waistband -- for Apple to strip its indispensable man of his command." Still, Apple bulls can now look forward to a year of new products, like the full-screen iPod media player and long-awaited iTV that should be introduced at this month's MacWorld. And with Jobs still at the helm, Technology Trader Bill Alpert says he won't be making funny faces at this stock any time soon.
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