'Tim Cook, you're fired!' More dumb advice from Wall Street

Short-sighted analysts, fan boys, and reporters are blaming Cook for not being Steve Jobs, despite Apple's strong finances

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For example, although the Maps debacle was rooted in the Jobs era, Cook took the hit. Sure, he's the CEO and he's responsible for what happens to the company, but if you're trying to paint a balanced picture -- and while I've just started reading Kane's book it appears that she doesn't -- you need to understand that Apple wasn't reborn on Aug. 24, 2011; it merely hired a new CEO that day.

A common complaint about the Cook-era Apple is that there is not enough innovation. During his last 15 years at Apple, Jobs invented three new product categories: digital music stores and devices, smartphones, and tablets. In Cook's 30 months on the job, Apple has lost its leadership position (in terms of market share but not income share) to Android overall and Samsung in particular.

But to be fair, the entire industry has been resorting to incremental improvements, rather than revolutionary new products -- I don't consider a fitness band or smart watch to be revolutionary. Any time a new product category is invented, the inventing company will invariably lose share as competitors jump in. Despite all the new competition, Apple sold 9 million iPhones in one weekend. Even Jobs would have been happy with that.

Wall Street misses the point when evaluating Apple
What exactly is Wall Street's beef? The numbers. Here's how one analyst who says Cook should be fired makes his case: "Apple's stock is at $530, which is 23 percent below its high of $702, while the S&P 500 is up 27 percent and Nasdaq is up 36 percent." Therefore, "Cook and [CFO] Peter Oppenehimer have systemically erased $130 billion of shareholder value. Which is twice the value erased in the collapse of Enron."

Yikes. That's a lot of value.

Or maybe not.

Anytime you look at value, you have to pick a starting point. If you start in late September 2012, you're looking at a point when Apple's stock was pushed to an all-time high (just over $700 a share) that briefly made it the most valuable publicly held company in the world.

Apple's real earnings and revenue didn't support that stock price, so it declined. That would have happened no matter who was the CEO. The runup was fueled by speculative investors, and when their unrealistic expectations scared those investors, the stock dropped. But the Wall Street analysts blame Cook (not themselves or the foolish investors) because it happened when he was CEO.

Is it fair to use the stock's inflated high as a yardstick to judge Cook? No. When he took over, the stock was then trading at $374; this week, it is trading $527 -- a gain of 41 percent. The company's market cap (share price times number of shares) went from from $349 billion to $474 billion. Viewed that way -- and why wouldn't you? -- Cook has helped create $125 billion in shareholder value. And he's done it without the help of the Wall Street geniuses who think that Apple buying Tesla would be a good idea.

There are plenty of reasons to be critical of Apple -- recent security mishaps are one example. Cook's the boss, and he's a legitimate target of criticism. But it's not legitimate to target him for not being Jobs.

I welcome your comments, tips, and suggestions. Post them here (Add a comment) so that all our readers can share them, or reach me at bill@billsnyder.biz. Follow me on Twitter at BSnyderSF.

This article, "'Tim Cook, you're fired!' More dumb advice from Wall Street," was originally published by InfoWorld.com. Read more of Bill Snyder's Tech's Bottom Line blog and follow the latest technology business developments at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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