Apple shareholders gathered on Thursday at the company's Cupertino headquarters, questions in hand. But unlike last year, when the primary concern of many attendees seemed to be Steve Jobs's medical leave and its effect on the health of the company, this year's discussion focused largely on environmental and financial issues.
As usual, Apple began the meeting with a brief discussion of the day's shareholder votes, followed by in-person balloting for those who hadn't already submitted proxy votes. The company also announced preliminary results based on those proxy votes. The results indicated that all seven members of the board of directors who were up for election were indeed elected, and two stock-related amendments were approved. Also approved were the ratification of Ernst & Young as the company's public accounting firm for 2010, and an advisory vote on executive compensation, both endorsed by the board.
Voted down were two shareholder proposals, each of which the board recommended voting against. The first was a proposal for Apple to prepare a "sustainability" report on the company's environmental policies and the effects that climate change may have on the company's competitiveness; the board's position was that Apple "is already substantially fulfilling—and in many respects exceeding—the request for information [in the proposal]." The second was a proposal to amend the company's bylaws to establish a board-of-directors sustainability committee to "ensure [Apple's] sustained viability" in the face of "changing conditions and knowledge of the natural environment, including ... natural resource limitations, energy use, waste disposal, and climate change." The board's position was, again, that management was performing "exceptionally well in this area" and thus such a committee was unnecessary. (You can read Apple's 2010 proxy statement for all the details of these proposals.)
With official business out of the way, Apple CEO Steve Jobs, chief operating officer Tim Cook, and chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer spent nearly an hour taking questions from shareholders in the room. (Although the most common question of the day went the other direction, as Jobs asked more than a few longwinded commenters, "Do you have a question?")
While many shareholders mentioned how happy they were that Jobs was back on the job, only one specifically questioned the CEO's health, asking if Jobs had returned to Apple only in a limited capacity. Jobs' response was a single, emphatic word -- "No" -- although in response to an earlier shareholder comment, Jobs did point out that while he was out, "Tim took the helm and Apple didn't miss a beat."