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Apple: Is Carl Icahn Acting Unethically?

Stocks in this article: AAPL NFLX

Maybe you don't buy any more AAPL. However, the components of the meal, beyond the escargot, influenced you one way or the other. On the basis of whether you liked or disliked the contents of your non-public -- as far as we know -- discourse with Cook, you can feel more comfortable about your time frame in the stock, vis-à-vis when to hold 'em or when to fold 'em.

Is this perfectly cool with market regulators and such? A private conversation between a billionaire with a gigantic position in AAPL and the company's CEO. Would it be better if they webcast the pow-wow so we could all see how it goes down and what's being said?

More riffing -- you decide you're going to add to your position because you really liked what Tim Cook had to say. This really would enter borderline territory. Every time I have seen a company introduce a buyback or, as could be the case here, increase the size of it, it triggers a public announcement.

Apple did this when it initially decided to go ahead with a dividend and buyback in a March 19, 2013 press release.

Now, I'm not to proud to admit, I'm a young guy. I have only 20 years or so worth of experience paying attention to this stuff. Not nearly as long as the 77-year old Icahn. And, quite honestly, the rules that sort of, kind of govern this type of thing aren't really all that clearcut. I'm not even certain rules that specifically address exactly what I'm talking about exist.

I just need some help on this. I mean if Icahn was short AAPL there would be no shortage of opinions blazing across TheStreet and the entire financial media every second of every day about his ethics, intentions, morality or legality of what he is or isn't doing.

But he's long. The stock's up so there's not a whole ton of discourse surrounding billionaires having, at least, a perceived unfair advantage over the lowly, work-a-day rank-and-file retail investor.

This is a lot like protecting free speech. You can't cherry pick. Agree or disagree with the speech, it's best to be consistent about protecting it. Long or short, it's unsettling that so many of us are willing to give in to a double standard for billionaires who can move stocks with a tweet and influence CEOs on the phone or over dinner.

-- Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

Rocco Pendola is a columnist and TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola makes frequent appearances on national television networks such as CNN and CNBC as well as TheStreet TV. Whenever possible, Pendola uses hockey, Springsteen or Southern California references in his work. He lives in Santa Monica.
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