Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that he is gay. It may seem strange to have Wall Street analysts weigh in on such a personal topic and we recognize that the announcement is bigger than shares of AAPL. But Cook's decision to announce that he is gay had the potential to impact the stock and many wondered if it would. We were happy to see investors vote through a roughly unchanged stock price that Tim Cook is just as capable a CEO today as he was before the announcement.
There is no question that Tim Cook has been a successful CEO at Apple. Since he took over as CEO in August 2011, shares of Apple have almost doubled and revenues have grown from $128 billion to our expectation of $191 billion this calendar year. Looking back even further, Cook has been flawlessly running the operations of Apple since the stock was $1 in 1998 (split-adjusted). In our view, this puts Cook in an elite class of managers with few peers.
Overall, we believe Cook's choice to announce his sexuality will largely be a popular one; however, there will inevitably be some people that have a harder time understanding his decision. Investor reaction to shares suggests they are making the bet that consumers around the world will not change how they view Apple or consume its products. Beyond Apple, as many have already commented, Cook's announcement could open the door for more public company CEOs to live without fear of negative reaction from investors, business partners, or customers regarding personal details of their lives.
Cook and Apple have shown in the past that they are willing to take on difficult issues to affect positive change, even if their actions aren't immediately or ever profitable. Apple is already a leader in environmental responsibility, workplace treatment, and human rights among other issues. As analysts, we are frequently asked to evaluate management teams and their ability to lead their companies to growing revenue and profit. It's rare and refreshing that we get the opportunity to evaluate a management team's ability to drive positive change on a societal level. Given their history, it's hard to imagine a more fitting person than Tim Cook or company than Apple to push Wall Street and the world toward a better place.
Commentary by Gene Munster and Doug Clinton, analysts at Piper Jaffray investment bank. Together they cover 28 stocks in the Internet space including Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon.
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