Report: Jobs to miss Apple shareholder meeting

Shareholders may ask about CEO's health, but don't expect new info, says analyst

Steve Jobs will not attend the company's shareholder meeting slated for Wednesday, according to reports.

Jobs will not appear at the annual meeting because he is on medical leave, the Bloomberg financial news service has said, quoting Apple spokesman Steve Dowling.

Dowling did not immediately respond to queries for confirmation Tuesday.

Jobs is on medical leave until at least June, a move he announced five weeks ago as he cited health issues that were "more complex than I originally thought." That announcement came just a week after -- in a rare public statement -- he attributed his dramatic weight loss to a "hormonal imbalance."

After that first revelation, a noted endocrinologist speculated that Jobs' symptoms resemble Type 1 diabetes and could be a side effect of the surgery he had in 2004 to remove a cancerous tumor from his pancreas.

Jobs' health has been an issue for some investors, and the focus of intense speculation by others, since last June, when he appeared gaunt at the Worldwide Developers Conference. A month later, Jobs talked off the record with a reporter at The New York Times who later said only that the Apple CEO's problems "weren't life-threatening, and he doesn't have a recurrence of cancer."

In the months following, other incidents, including an accidently-published obituary and a bogus report that Jobs suffered a major heart attack in October, sent Apple's stock tumbling.

Last month, Bloomberg said sources claimed that the US Securities and Exchange Commission was reviewing Apple's disclosures about Jobs' health.

"I'd expect that some shareholders will have questions about Jobs' health tomorrow," said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research. "But Apple will say the same things they've always said, that they have an active management team in place and that Jobs will be back in June. Are people concerned? Sure. Is Apple going to say anything different? I doubt it."

In Jobs' absence, Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook is running Apple day-to-day, and will presumably be the point man during the event. In the past, Apple's shareholder meetings have featured an extensive question-and-answer session during which Jobs fields queries from attendees.

Like others on the company's board, Jobs faces reelection as a director on the board tomorrow. In the past, he has easily won reelection.

Also up for a vote tomorrow are several proposals, including a call for an annual report that delves into the company's stance on such issues as climate change and environmental impact. The board of directors has taken a position against every shareholder-originated proposal.

Apple's shareholder meeting is scheduled for Wednesday.

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
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