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Experts Debate Whether Apple's Jobs Is Clear of Options Scandal

Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
Alastair Grant
Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

Andy Hargreaves, consumer electronics analyst at Pacific Crest Securities, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that he believes Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs is just about clear of an options back-dating scandal.

But Carol Gilden, former SEC attorney and president-elect of National Association of Shareholder and Consumer Attorneys, said "I don’t think Steve Jobs is out of the woods quite yet.”

“The risk went down for us when the SEC came out and Steve Jobs was not part of the group that was charged or that was forced to pay a fine,” Hargreaves said Thursday. “Certainly, having the board come out whole-heartedly and support Steve Jobs is a positive as well, particularly since the board includes an ex-vice president.”

On Wednesday, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed charges against Nancy Heinen, former Apple general counsel, and Fred Anderson, the company’s former chief financial officer for alleged handling of backdated stock options. Anderson said Jobs had been warned about backdating the options.

“I think the former CFO pointing the finger at Steve Jobs really calls into question the SEC’s investigation into options backdating at Apple," said Gilden. "It puts the SEC on the defensive. The SEC now has to justify its investigation and its decision into giving Steve Jobs and Apple Computer a pass.”

The controversy hasn’t hurt Apple’s bottom line. The company reported second quarter net income of $770 million or 87 cents a share, compared with $410 million, or 47 cents a share a year ago. The Wall Street consensus estimate was 64 cents. Revenue increased to $5.26 billion in the second quarter from $4.36 billion.

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