American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu and Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster on Friday issued research reports in which they both concluded that Appleis investigation into previously-issued stock grants is unlikely to have a major impact on the company.
On Thursday, Apple announced that an internal investigation had found irregularities in stock option grants issued between 1997 and 2001, including a Jan. 12, 2000 grant to CEO Steve Jobs that was canceled in March 2003, resulting in no financial gain to him. The company has hired independent counsel to look into the matter further.
Mr. Wu wrote: "In our proprietary analysis, we believe the key point is that even in the worst case scenario where AAPL is found guilty of granting options improperly, we do not believe Steve Jobs is liable. The reason being the compensation committee at AAPL is run by an independent board who are not employees of AAPL. At the present time, the three members of the compensation committee are Bill Campbell, Mickey Drexler, and former Vice-President Al Gore."
While Mr. Munster agreed that the news wonit have a major impact on the company, he did characterize one of the 13 stock option grants issued by Apple between 1997 and 2001 as "noteworthy." It was given to Mr. Jobs five years ago and was at the low for a 40-day trading range surrounding the grant date.
He wrote: "From a high level, backdating options is the topic du jour, and this somewhat tarnishes Appleis squeaky clean image. However, it does not impact Appleis underlying fundamentals. We would view a pullback in shares as a buying opportunity ahead of what we believe will be favorable back-to-school and holiday periods for Apple."
Both analysts retained their "Buy" ratings on Appleis stock. Mr. Wu reiterated his US$75 price target while Mr. Munster kept his $99 price target. At 1:00 PM EST on Friday, Appleis shares were selling for $57.40, down 2.66% for the day.