Despite the uproar and teeth-gnashing among investment bankers, stock analysts, and corporate moguls, the everyday people that invest in Apple Inc. are not so worried about the health of Steve Jobs.
Media outlets from the Wall Street Journal to People Magazine have published breathless reports about Steve Jobs and his liver transplant. Investment strategists up to the level of Warren Buffet have waxed poetic about the importance of Steve Jobs and the duty of Apple to report on his health. There have been more news about sightings of Steve jobs than about sightings of Elvis. To look at these reports is to think that the Jobs health issue is a crisis of unprecedented importance at Apple and that the sky is falling.
One might fairly assume, then, that shares of Apple stock are sliding down a slippery slope, and that every piece of news about the health of the CEO is bringing the company closer to insolvency. If one thinks those things, one would be incredibly wrong. In the nearly six months since the initial controversy about Jobs’ health, including his taking of a six month leave of absence for health reasons, the price of a share of Apple stock have performed better than almost allÂ of their competitors, according to a Wall Street Journal story. In the few days since it was announced that Jobs had had a liver transplant, share prices have fallen less than one tenth of one percent.
In what may be a case of classic understatement, fund manager Hakim Kriout, a portfolio manager at Grigsby & Assoc. recently said, “When Steve Jobs became an issue, people wondered if it was going to slow down growth in earnings. We’re starting to see that’s not the case.”
Perhaps what we have been seeing is America’s obsession with the cult of personality leaking into the business world. Apple as a company has never been better. Thousands of people and an entire portfolio of products are performing to a very high level, defying a huge world-wide recession. Yet, one fellow within the scheme of Apple things is unwell, so the media goes wild.
It is fortunate that not everyone is as gullible, excitable, and prone to the worship of idols as the financial and technical media have been. If everyday people had been that panic stricken, Apple would currently be in bankruptcy. No one would be buying their products, there would be no revenue. There has always been more to Apple than Steve Jobs, even when the company only had two employees. He is a visionary. He does a good job, in the main. But the star is not the whole production. Rather, the production is a sum of its parts, of which one lone actor is just another cog in the story of success and failure.