updated 02:25 pm EDT, Wed October 18, 2006
Analyst on options scandal
Apple CEO Steve Jobs will maintain his position at Apple amidst shareholder worries, according to one analyst, following an investigation into recently discovered stock options backdating. Gene Munster, senior analyst of research firm Piper Jaffray notes that despite a total of 150 companies performing options investigations resulting in the resignation of nine CEOs, Apple's top exec is almost certainly in the clear. "The bottom line, it is becoming clear that Steve Jobs will remain Apple's CEO," Munster said. Many Apple shareholders believe Jobs' placement at the head of the company is key to the success of its current and future business efforts, which raised concerns after news broke that one illegally backdated grant was offered to Jobs. Another announcement clarified that Jobs in fact knew of the backdated stock options, but failed to realize the accounting repercussions of such activities. Piper Jaffray is maintains its "outperform" rating on Apple shares with a price target of $99.
"Apple concluded its internal options investigation and found no misconduct by any current members of the management team," said Munster. "As a result of the investigation findings, former Apple CFO Fred Anderson has resigned from the board of directors and Apple will likely restate its financials."
The analyst warns that although Jobs may free of being forced to resign from his position as chief of Apple, the shady activities revealed by the investigation tarnish Apple's "squeaky clean" image. The discovered issues are not expected to impact Apple's underlying fundamentals, however. Looking ahead, Munster expects investors to shift their focus to processor market share gains and strong iPod sales through the upcoming holiday season.