U.S. News

Apple Shines In Face Of Options Report


Shares of Apple Computer held on to early gains on Friday following the company's announcement that it found no misconduct by current management in its investigations of stock-option grants. However, the probe found chief executive Steve Jobs knew about some favorable grant dates.

In a regulatory filing, the company also said it found irregularities in some grants between 1997 and 2001, including a grant to Jobs.

Apple Options

Apple shares jumped as much as 5.5%. On CNBC's "Morning Call," Christopher Whalen, Senior Vice President at Institutional Risk Analytics said the move was not unexpected. However, once people digest what's in the Apple's SEC filing, "they may want to reassess some of their optimism," Whalen said.

"The special committee, its independent counsel and forensic accountants have performed an exhaustive investigation of Apple's stock option granting practices," former Vice President Al Gore, chair of the special committee, and Jerome York, chair of Apple's Audit and Finance Committee, said in a joint statement. "The board of directors is confident that the company has corrected the problems that led to the restatement, and it has complete confidence in Steve Jobs and the senior management team."

But Apple also said "the investigation found that CEO Steve Jobs was aware or recommended the selection of some favorable grant dates," although it stressed he "did not receive or financially benefit from these grants or appreciate the accounting implications."

"I know the board said they have full confidence in management, but one of the things is that if you were on that board, wouldn't you have to do the same thing?" Joe Kinahan, options trader at thinkorswim, told "Squawk Box." "Because, can you think of one other company, besides perhaps Berkshire Hathaway, where the CEO is so much the face of the company?"

"I find it hard to believe the Justice Department is going to say, 'all right, if you think he's such a great guy we'll forget about that, we'll just call off the investigation,'" Kinahan added.

But investors clearly were heartened by the results of the investigation. Shares of Apple rose 4.8% in trading in Frankfurt.

Apple's options mishandling will result in an additional noncash charge of $84 million. The three-month probe identified a number of grants for which grant dates were intentionally selected in order to obtain favorable exercise prices, the company said.

The maker of the iPod music player and Macintosh computers is one of the most prominent among some 200 companies that have come under scrutiny for backdating stock options. It's a widespread practice, especially in Silicon Valley, that involves pegging stock options to favorable grant dates in the past to boost the recipients' award.

Dozens of companies have been forced to restate their earnings, erasing some of their earlier recorded profits, after their stock option shenanigans came to light.

Apple initiated its own stock options probe in June and delayed its quarterly report for the period ending July 1 and its annual report for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30 as a result.