Analyst: Ron Johnson’s Departure Not End of World for Apple

The departure of retailing mastermind Ron Johnson from Apple, Inc. is no doubt a loss, but it’s also far from being “the end of the world” for the company, according to Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu. In a research note obtained by The Mac Observer, Mr. Wu told clients that Apple has a deep bench, and that the Apple way of thinking is deeply ingrained at the company.

Mr. Johnson announced on Tuesday that he was leaving Apple to join J.C. Penney as CEO and a member of the company’s board of directors. Mr. Johnson helped Apple build its fleet of retail stores, which are among the best performing and most profitable retail stores on the planet.

“We would like to note that this isn’t the first time a fairly high profile person has left AAPL,” the analyst wrote. “That esteemed list includes Jon Rubenstein, head of hardware engineering; Avie Tevanian, head of software engineering; Fred Anderson, CFO; and Tony Fadell, who many credit to be the ‘father of the iPod.’”

“We would argue,” he said, “that AAPL has not really missed a beat (at least publicly) despite these high-profile departures.”

Mr. Wu also said that he wrote the research note because many of his investor clients had been asking what the departure of Mr. Johnson might mean for Apple.

His response is that, “We continue to believe that AAPL is positioned to outperform in this tough macroeconomic environment with its defendable strategic and structural advantages and its vertical integration.”

The analyst maintained his “Buy” rating on AAPL and his US$460 price target on the stock.

Share of AAPL traded lower during the later afternoon session on Thursday, at $321.66, down 5.09 (-1.56%), on strong volume.

*In the interest of full disclosure, the author holds a small share in AAPL stock that was not an influence in the creation of this article.