If you think your portfolio has taken a hit since the beginning of the year, consider Steve Jobs and his stake in Apple: He's down $377 million and change since Jan. 1, so if anyone knows the magnitude of Apple's steep--and some say overdone--decline since then, it's the mercurial Apple chief.
Which makes an email he sent to employees last week, and first reported on by the blog AppleInsider all the more relevant--and impressive. At its root, it shows a guy certainly not asleep at the switch, and certainly aware that his employees are suffering. And I have confirmed that the email is indeed authentic (something you have to do nowadays, in this age of Fake Steve Jobs.)
He writes: "Wow....what a remarkable last few days. Our stock is being buffeted around by factors a lot larger than ourselves."
It's a fair point and something I've been writing about here and talking about on the air since the decline began. To wit, I found the reaction to Apple's earnings and outlook outrageous, and I continue to watch so much indecision swirling around these shares.
In his note, Jobs focuses on Apple's performance over the last 24 months, even offering a stock chart showing share performance of Google, Microsoft,Hewlett-Packard,Dell and Apple, pointing out that "we have outperformed many other blue-chip tech companies, including Google."
While that's little solace for employees and investors relatively new to the company and its stock--and I never believe that past performance is a guarantee of future results--I'd rather focus on Apple's fundamentals, something Jobs too points out: "I continue to believe that our fundamentals--our remarkable people, our clear and focused strategy, our new product pipeline, our 200+ retail stores, our $18 billion of cash in the bank with no debt, etc., will serve us well in the coming months and years."
For nervous investors wondering what happens next at Apple, please re-read that last bit again because it summarizes effectively why Apple's future continues to burn bright even as its shares continue to, well, burn.
These words are nice and welcomed by many of you who have written to me since the email was made public. But many of you want to see action, too. Maybe a portion of that $18 billion in cash will go to a new Apple share buyback, something I'm sure will come up at the company's shareholder meeting in a few weeks. That, and a lot of comments about what this company can do to prop up its shares once again. Should make for an interesting meeting.
In the meantime, Jobs closes his note by saying he believes "that investors who stay with us will be rewarded as the market's confidence is restored over time. Hang in there."
For many of you, including reader Robert O'Neill, so frustrated by Apple's decline, the Steve Jobs' hand-holding is just what you needed to hear: "This," O'Neill writes to me, "is what sets the company apart."
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