Macworld Pullout Sends AAPL 6.6% Lower [Updated]

Shares in Apple Inc. lost 6.57% Wednesday, as investors reacted negatively to the news that the company was pulling out of Macworld after 2009, and that CEO Steve Jobs would not be giving the keynote at the next, its last, Macworld event. The news brought mixed reactions from pundits and analysts.

AAPL closed at US$89.16 per share, a loss of $6.27 (-6.57%), on moderately strong volume of 46.2 million shares trading hands.

The opinion that seems to have grabbed hold of investors' imaginations is that Steve Jobs's decision to not do this year's keynote was in some way related to ongoing concerns about his health.

Several mainstream pundits have speculated that this was the reason, while analyst reaction was mixed.

Oppenheimer analyst Yair Reiner lowered his rating on the stock from Outperform to Perform, and told clients he could barring a public, long-term succession plan from Apple, he could, "no longer continue to recommend Apple as a long-term investment," according to CBS Marketwatch.

"We don't know why Steve Jobs has pulled out of his annual address at Macworld...Maybe he's not feeling well, or maybe he just has nothing new to say," Mr. Reiner wrote. "Whatever the reason, the unexpected announcement has underscored the greatest risk to Apple's long-term success -- its dependence on Jobs' health and its apparent lack of a succession plan."

Other analysts, including Piper Jaffary's Gene Munster and Charlie Wolf of Needham & Co., both dismissed concerns about Steve Jobs' health, though Mr. Munster added that the lack of a Stevenote does indicate that nothing big will come out of this Macworld.

Dow Jones reported that Canaccord had started coverage on Apple at a Hold rating.

Taking a slightly different tack, our own Ted Landau theorized, "This is all consistent with Steve's personality and general mode of operation. Once he decided that Apple's relationship with Macworld Expo was going to be over, he wanted nothing to do with the event anymore. Not even to show up for the Expo keynote next month."

Whatever the reason for Apple's actions and decisions, the market's knee-jerk reaction was to push AAPL lower.

[This article was updated with additional information. - Editor]

*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.