Was Steve Jobs legally bound to disclose his health issues in a more timely fashion or did he purposely suppress information and lead Apple shareholders a stray? The Securities and Exchange Commission is reportedly looking into a possible connection according to reports.
The latest rumor regarding the Apple CEO comes just hours before Apple is due to report fiscal year 2009 first quarter results Wednesday.
Citing an anonymous source, Bloomberg News Wednesday said that the SEC has, in fact, been looking into a connection between Jobs' health and Apple's stock since the Apple CEO first appeared sickly in June. The purported SEC investigation is not surprising; in fact, the only surprise is why the news wasn't leaked earlier.
The supposed investigation does not mean that there is any evidence of wrongdoing on Apple's part, Bloomberg was quick to point out, citing the unidentified source.
The SEC requires that Apple, as a publicly traded company, is legally obligated to disclose pertinent news that may affect stocks. The question is: does Jobs' health qualify as public or personal information?
Whether it could be considered ghoulish or not, almost as soon as Jobs' disclosed his health woes last week and ensuing absence from the company, pundits immediately theorized that the Cupertino, Calif.-based company would be subject to class action lawsuits.
As to whether shareholders could successfully win a suit regarding Jobs, legal experts are doubtful.
"It would be difficult and certainly a new area of the law," Peter Henning, a former federal prosecutor and SEC lawyer, told Bloomberg. "You would have to pin down exactly what they knew, and with a health issue--unlike a merger or a decline in revenue -- it's not subject to definitive answers."
Apple's COO, Tim Cook, was tapped to take over day-to-day operations at the company.
Jobs has also sought to assure employees and investors that he is keeping a hand in Apple's business while on leave until June.
"As CEO, I plan to remain involved in major strategic decisions while I am out," he said. "Our board of directors fully supports this plan."
In fact, the board has always publicly expressed support for Jobs in spite of any health problems.
"As we have said before, if there ever comes a day when Steve wants to retire or for other reasons cannot continue to fulfill his duties as Apple's CEO, you will know it," the board said in a statement.
"Apple is very lucky to have Steve as its leader and CEO, and he deserves our complete and unwavering support during his recuperation. He most certainly has that from Apple and its board."
In the reseller community, several VARs have expressed confidence in Apple in the face of Jobs' disclosure.
"It's very sad," said George Blakely, owner and manager of Lancaster, Pa.-based MacHeads. "However, Apple is a very strong company and continues to have good people in place."