Apple shareholders nervous as Jobs to meet with Obama

The National Enquirer publishes photos that purport to show the Apple chief outside of a treatment center in California.

By Kim Peterson Feb 17, 2011 1:11PM
File photo of Apple CEO Steve Jobs (© Tony Avelar/AP)Some Apple (AAPL) shareholders are nervous today after photos surfaced apparently showing chief executive Steve Jobs outside a cancer clinic in California.

The National Enquirer published photos after following Jobs from breakfast to the Stanford Cancer Center, Gizmodo reports. Jobs is on a medical leave from the company, but it's hard to tell whether he is in fact the man in the photos. Apple has not verified the Enquirer's report.

As unseemly as the photos are, shareholders are reacting by pushing the stock down more than 1% today to $358.50. That's not a huge drop -- certainly not enough to dent the massive climb the stock has made since September. Apple is still trading close to its 52-week high of $364.90.

Apple shareholders are desperate for information about Jobs, even unverified reports accompanied by National Enquirer photos. The company has not explained why Jobs needed to go on medical leave -- his third in seven years -- and the reports, if correct, could shed some light on the situation.

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Jobs began his leave last month, with chief operating officer Tim Cook running daily operations while he's gone. The company isn't saying when Jobs will return. He had surgery to treat a tumor on his pancreas in 2004 and had a liver transplant in 2009.

Analysts have reacted to the medical leave with little more than a shrug. Cook is certainly capable of taking Apple exactly where it needs to go, and Jobs was recently spotted on campus in good spirits. The Wall Street Journal reports that Jobs has been taking business meetings at home and on the phone.

Shareholders should also take comfort in the fact that Jobs is reportedly meeting with President Barack Obama today at a private residence in California. The top bosses at Facebook and Google (GOOG) are also expected to attend. I'd love to be a fly on the wall for that one.

The president is flying to San Francisco, and his meeting with tech executives is part of ongoing attempts to extend an olive branch to the business community.
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