It's Just Another Steve Jobs Rumor, but...

Apple investors react to another blog report about Steve Jobs' health, and can you really blame them?
Publish date:

SAN FRANCISCO -- So much for any future one-on-one interviews with Apple (HMC) - Get Report CEO Steve Jobs running on the tech blog Gizmodo.

Citing a "solid source," the blog decided Tuesday to go where few have wanted to tread: pronouncing publicly that Jobs' health is declining rapidly.


source, who the blog says has been "100% correct" when passing along product scoops, says this is why Jobs wouldn't give his traditional

keynote address

at the company's MacWorld Expo in January, as the company announced earlier this month.

Jobs was diagnosed with a malignant but less aggressive form of pancreatic cancer in 2004, undergoing surgery to remove a tumor. Subsequent gaunt appearances in the past couple of years have continued, at the very least, to keep the CEO's health in the back of investors' minds.



report infused a minor jolt into Apple's stock, which had been up more than 1% most of the session. Shares fell as low as $84.72, off 2%, before moving back recently to $85.79, down just 1%.

CNBC subsequently disputed the


story, citing its own sources that no new news about Jobs existed and that his health is "just fine as far we as we know." These sources also reiterated that Jobs' absence from MacWorld was a result of the company's plans to no longer invest in the conference.

Buttressing the Steve-is-fine argument was a Reuters report that quoted a company spokesman as saying "if ever Steve or the board of directors decided that he was no longer capable of doing his job as CEO of Apple, I'm sure they will let you know."

Well, you would forgive an Apple shareholder for taking that claim with a grain of salt. Company executives have consistently fended off queries into Jobs' health, referring to it earlier this year as it a "private matter," a phrase continually proven false by the stock's swoon whenever a rumor of Jobs' ill health comes to the surface.

And it would pay to remember

Peter Elkind's piece



earlier this year that disclosed that both Jobs and Apple's board knew about his original cancer diagnosis for nine months before disclosing it to shareholders.

In any event, it prevents anyone from automatically scoffing at


and its "solid source."

Ultimately, investors have to understand that they're never going to really know anything about Jobs' health until they absolutely


to know by the strictest letter of the law.

As long as Jobs is at the helm, the stock will carry with it some unquantifiable degree of risk related to his health -- a company/CEO tie-in perhaps only surpassed by Warren Buffett and

Berkshire Hathaway



The trick, as always, is calculating that risk against the huge opportunity for future upside that could be orchestrated by the man himself.