While the prevailing opinion on Wall Street seems to be that Steve Jobs is staying put as CEO of
(AAPL - Get Report) despite a lingering stock-options probe, the snowballing prosecutions for corporate backdating prompt the question of how the company would fare if Jobs were no longer in charge.
Apple has said that Jobs
knew of backdated option grants
but "was unaware of the accounting implications," and an internal investigation cleared him of misconduct.
Still, according to media reports, he's been questioned by authorities at the
Securities and Exchange Commission, and the investigation by federal authorities is ongoing.
With such questions still swirling, some wonder about the possible downside of leaning so heavily on one person to drive the company's success -- and what
the Jobs-friendly board
is doing to prepare for the possibility of losing its star pitchman.
At other companies in which options were manipulated, boards of directors haven't wasted time in showing chief executives the door. But Jobs is a whole different animal.
"Steve Jobs is Apple's No. 1 asset," says Jim Post, professor of management at Boston University. "A great deal of
market valuation is tied up with Jobs' presence and his role."
If Jobs were to be charged with securities fraud, Post predicts the stock would take a 25% hit. Apple shares closed Thursday trading at $89.51, gaining 31 cents. The stock has remained somewhat range-bound in the past three months.