It's not Apple, the company, or AAPL, the stock, that's hated. Rather, the full force of Cramer should come down on Tim Cook. He's the one who is "hated" (of course, I think I can speak for Jim when I say, we use the term "hated" in the colloquial sense). Cook needs to hear that he's "hated" -- that he's the problem -- not the otherworldly entity Apple. He's the reason why AAPL has needlessly become a battleground stock.
Tim Cook makes the choice to speak to Carl Icahn. Whether he's making that choice directly or on the advisement of fellow executives or the Apple Board of Directors, the buck stops with him. Even against the wishes of the board, Cook could have halted the now-constant pressure from billionaire bench-sitters such as Icahn and David Einhorn by putting them in their proper place from day one. But he didn't. Because, despite his attempts to portray himself as such, he's just not a strong CEO.
And now, at least to some extent, Apple's eye is off of the ball.
While the company should be 100% hyper-focused on its pipeline, crushing another category and possibly making a major acquisition (though I don't necessarily endorse that), it's bothering, on some level, with all of this pointless buyback talk at the behest of a man who has one person's interest in mind -- his own.
Hopeful alternative scenario: Cook is head faking us all. After breaking bread with Icahn, Cook hasn't thought about the guy since, other than to publicly pacify him because stomping him out just isn't his style. But, based on Cook's history with Einhorn (who won big!), my optimism is likely misplaced.
Apple doesn't require buybacks or earth-shaking acquisitions to make its stock run. Investors want a Tim Cook --
or another CEO
-- they can have complete and unwavering confidence in. If Steve Jobs before Cook and Howard Schultz and Jeff Bezos in the present day don't provide ample support for that statement, I'm not sure what will.
Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.