Apple and the art of the 8-K

January 18, 2011

You might have heard over the long holiday weekend this little story about a well-known tech company executive taking a leave of absence from his high-powered job to deal with lingering health issues.

Though the news about Apple (AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs was released early in the morning on a day when both the markets and the SEC were closed, it certainly generated plenty of attention. Now Apple is known for its precision-like approach to getting news — any news, whether financial, about its different products or even the health of the CEO — out to the public. So it’s hard to chalk it up as a coincidence that this happened on a day when the markets were closed.

But what we found particularly interesting is that by the time that Apple filed this 8-K a little after 6 a.m. this morning, the news had already been out there for close to 24 hours. Needless to say, the 8-K didn’t have any new information — just an intro and a copy of the note that Jobs sent to employees.

It reminded us of why some people we talk to often criticize 8-Ks for being worthless since there’s a feeling that the news is already out there, and thus, baked into the price of the stock. This morning, Apple shares are trading about 4% lower on yesterday’s news.

Of course, we don’t subscribe to that view on 8-Ks. If we did, there would be absolutely no reason to read filings and look for hidden meanings and signals. Other companies can try to replicate Apple with their products and approach to both the media and the filings. But there really is only one of them, and we’re clearly thankful for that.

Image source: Apple Inc.

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On Friday, we released our Top 10 M&A picks for 2011 over on FootnotedPro, our subscription-only service for institutional investors. FootnotedPro: Interesting, Actionable, Profitable.

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