Thursday, January 15, 2009

An ambulance chaser's view of Apple's disclosures

Joe Nocera of the New York Times, has been following the Steve Jobs health situation for years now. He makes a number of good points and shares a juicy insider's perspective, but I think he misses a major issue that one of my litigious relatives (e.g. plaintiff bar member) raised.

Before commenting, let me say that, despite the Enron mischief and the restatements (sometimes criminal) of countless technology companies for backdating options, it took the Madoff abomination to make me listen more carefully to whining from the plaintiff bar. With that qualification, his perspective is twofold.

First, many small investors are committing inordinate amounts of their personal wealth behind the fortunes of Apple's stock. It may be irrational, but for sure, people of passion have done far whackier things. If there is material news known to an ever growing circle of people (directors, doctors, nurses, household help, attorneys etc), it's essential to make it public to ensure a level investment playing field for the average investor and avoid yet another body blow to the underpinning of our financial system; TRUST. I would bet dollars for donuts that professionals, who manage Apple positions in the tens of millions of dollars, are doing everything they can to lawfully ferret out the truth. We know that every confidant has a confidant, that's why we have these rules.

Let's not expose our system to yet another gross inequity...not while Madoff is ensconced in his penthouse apartment suffering the pain of having to order take-out from the Four Seasons.

The second point he made was to highlight the unfair burden Mr. Jobs, and the Company, are putting on directors, and all the people who have this material (a vague concept, but looking at the stock's gyrations on positive/negative news on his health, it's hard to deny materiality) information. If they sell, or buy Apple equity/options, while possessing this information, they open themselves to liability for what could be perceived of as, at worst, a criminal act. Does Albert Gore, Jr, or Dr. Eric Schmidt need this; do we?

No comments:

Post a Comment