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Quick Hits: SEC Inspects Apple

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Brief scrutiny of today's headlines.

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It's not nice to fib, especially about issues that might hammer a company's stock price.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission is reviewing Apple's (AAPL) disclosures about CEO Steve Jobs' health to be sure stockholders weren't mislead.

Bloomberg News, citing an unnamed tipster, reports that the SEC's review "doesn't mean investigators have seen evidence of wrongdoing."

The charismatic and notoriously cranky Jobs is considering a liver transplant following complications from cancer treatment. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2004 and appeared unusually thin at recent public appearances.

Initially, Jobs said he sought treatment for a "relatively simple" nutritional ailment and he would remain at the helm of the company he co-founded. But 9 days later, Jobs said his health problems were "more complex" and he would take a medical leave of absence.

Apple's stock rose about 4.2% on January 5 when Job said he suffered from a hormone imbalance. The shares have lost about 8.4% since January 14 when the company said the 53-year-old Jobs would be out through June.

File this one under: Stupid things smart people do.

No one can blame Jobs for wanting to keep his health problems private, but he's smart enough to realize that what happens to him affects Apple - or at least he should be able to figure that out. It's possible, however, that Jobs didn't know how severely his condition had deteriorated.

In 2006, Jobs caused a flap with back-dated stock options. The US Department of Justice investigated, but no charges were filed. Nevertheless, the continuing soap opera tarnished Apple.

Everyone wishes Jobs well and wants him back at Apple doing what he doest best - creating zippy, innovative, "must-have" products. Let's hope that one of these days Jobs will realize he has responsibilities to others - including all those pesky stockholders who adore him.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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