Steve Jobs' Vital Signs Belong To Apple Investors

Reacting to re-newed concerns about Steve Jobs’ health and its impact on Apple’s future, Wall Street says it is holding Apple’s board responsible to disclose any changes in Jobs’ well-being. Investors are also applying pressure on Apple to go public with a post-Jobs era plan, hinting the company should rely on its current executive team to fill his shoes once he steps down. Jobs health has become established as major factor in any assessment of Apple, good or bad.

The matter of Steve Jobs’ health has been kind of a big deal this last week. The scrutiny that a CEO of a major public company undergoes is not limited to Jobs, but the extent to which Jobs dominates Apple makes him more of an issue. That’s why the CEO recently admitted to his closest associates that his thin WWDC appearance was due to a minor surgery he underwent earlier this year to solve a problem that caused his weight loss. It was big news as reported by the NYTimes . He also called concerns about his health exaggerated" and confirmed to those around him that he is now cancer free. But this reassurance wasn’t enough for some Wall Street investors who think it is a high time Apple takes the matter of his health much more seriously.

Investment bank Piper Jaffray wrote in a note to investors last week that Apple’s board is actually required to disclose key changes in Steve’s health that would prevent him from doing his job. "We believe Steve Jobs commands attention from investors given his high profile as founder of the company and his hands-on approach to Apple’s products," said the bank’s analyst Gene Munster in a not to clients. "As such, we believe that Apple’s board has a responsibility to disclose any changes that may impede him to continue to serve."

Munster told clients that Steve Jobs is a material factor to the company’s fortune, citing the company’s carefully orchestrated public events centered around Jobs and key role the CEO plays in product development. He also stressed the importance of Apple’s executive team members who "share a collective track record of consistently outpacing their competitors in terms of hardware and software innovation coupled with robust product marketing and financial discipline."

Apple investors are actualy saying : "Hey guys, you’re doing a fantastic job ! But, do you have a ’what if’ scenario ?"

Apple says it is at Jobs’ discretion to reveal anything from his health record to the public. But he was pretty sick four years ago, and the lack of communication did not leave much room for confidence in Apple’s approach to the matter. With all this in mind, most people view the issue of exposure as a moral conundrum. Both Apple haters and fanboys are expressing genuine sympathy for Jobs health but people seem divided as to how much information he, or Apple, should divulge.

"The issue of a man’s health is a private matter. No amount of Wall Street greed should interfere with that. If Steve chooses to disclose anything it’s up to him," wrote one reader in the comment to TGDaily’s article about Jobs’ health.

Another reader thought the board has the final say. "Steve Jobs’ right to privacy ends when the board determines that poor health is affecting his performance. Therefore his health is not currently affecting his performance, or a statement would be made. He’s very, very thin, but that’s not unhealthy."

"When one person has the power to swing a company stock dramatically just from his health, then his health is no longer a private matter. He is part of Apple’s asset, revenue, earning, and future growth," commented another reader.

Inadvertently, Apple’s position on this matter, probably mirroring the wishes of Jobs himself, has created a great deal of uncertainty. The issue of Jobs’ health will now play a prominent role in any assessment of Apple’s future. What do you think ? If you were an Apple investor, how influenced would you be by Jobs’ health ? In any case, do you believe Apple has the management capability, or any plan, to handle a post-Jobs era ?

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