Tim Cook, Not Apple, Is Hated

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- If you don't expect too much from me, you might not be let down.

That's a classic line from the Gin Blossoms. That's my life mantra. And it probably should be Apple ( AAPL) CEO Tim Cook's as well.

On Tuesday, Cramer referred to Apple as "hated" in a Real Money article:

Instead, with these constant Carl Icahn updates about talking with Tim Cook, Apple's become the Transocean (RIG) of computing, nowhere anyone really wants to be except those who want don't care about buying or developing growth.

As much as I like how Icahn has galvanized managements to return cash, I think returning cash the way Icahn wants is a big mistake. It will do nothing for the long term. But sitting on cash isn't going to do anything either.

That's why, as much as I like Apple, unless it stops talking to Icahn and starts talking to bankers about an acquisition that gives it "social," the stock will be dead in the water until estimates come down so far that it can blow them away. And judging by the action -- we aren't there yet.

I know I'm splitting hairs here, but the nuance is important. Here's my rationale as to why.

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.

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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