Right before the closing bell (and the company's earnings release), the stock was down 2 percent - a considerable improvement from earlier in the day when it was off more than 6 percent. In other words, shareholders are rattled by Steve Jobs' unexpected medical leave, but they're not panicking. Of course, what do they know? Not much, thanks to the absence of any specific information from the company about the CEO's health. So are shareholders owed more information? There's been a range of opinion:
From Annie Lowrey in Slate:
While publicly traded corporations need to disclose events and changes that might "materially" affect the company, the Securities and Exchange Commission does not specifically require disclosures about CEO health. That vagueness in the law means that Apple has remained within the letter of the law with its disclosures. But that doesn't mean it is keeping with the spirit of it. Indeed, Apple gives the public the bare minimum of information, leaving watchers to read wildly into any statement. The point of the disclosure law is to reduce investor uncertainty and company opacity. Perversely, Apple's disclosures tend to introduce it.
From Jena McGregor in the Washington Post:
I believe the company needs to share more about how long Jobs will be--or could be--away, the gravity of his illness and how much he'll still be involved. It should clear up confusing decision lines--Cook may be running things "day to day," as the release states, but it also says Jobs remains CEO. As it stands, the company's statement is likely to prompt questions both for investors and employees, and doing more to reduce that ambiguity would be considered good management.
From Kara Swisher at All Things Digital:
I suspect much of what will be written about his diagnosis will be sheer speculation and only a little bit will be accurate reporting. I am guessing this time too that Jobs will be as tight-lipped as ever about what he's going through, which could be a wide range of medical issues, some more serious than others. And that, I think, should be what everyone should let him do, because the public Steve Jobs has given his large audience more than enough since he got back after the last time he was sick.
*Apple reported strong results that far exceeded already bullish expectations. (NYT)