Apple Computer announced the results of its internal stock options investigation on Wednesday, finding 15 instances option-backdating leading to the resignation of a board member, however experts believe Steve Jobs should not be affected.
In a few instances, the firm's CEO, Steve Jobs, was said to have been aware of the favorable grants, but was unaware of the accounting implications. The findings indicate he did not benefit from the grants.
Although Steve Jobs may be tainted by the admission that he knew of favorable grant dates, ultimately we suspect his tenure as CEO is likely to continue, Merrill Lynch's Richard Farmer said to clients on Thursday.
We do not believe the question of personal benefit from options irregularities to be as important as whether Jobs knowingly engaged in personal misconduct (e.g. encouraged accounting to deviate from stated procedures), neither of which appears to have happened, according to Appleâ€™s investigation, he continues.
Apple said that the investigation found no misconduct by any member of Appleâ€™s current management team. Removing the concern of any irregularities with Apple's executive team, Wall Street analysts feel the firm can now move on.
With the overhang associated with its options grants now behind it, said David Bailey of Goldman Sachs, we believe AAPL shares will better reflect the companyâ€™s fundamental performance.
Todayâ€™s announcement does not change our positive view on Appleâ€™s fundamentals but it does give us greater confidence that non-operational issues will not negatively impact the stock. Bailey concludes.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has been actively perusing a number of hi-tech firms as it cracks down on options back-dating - an illegal practice where firms grant stock options from pervious dates to benefit from lower prices.