San Francisco\tThu 9:40 PM 28 Dec 2006Less than 12 hours...oops I mean days... to go
. [I got no Dashboard
AAPL = $80.87
"Apple Computer Inc.'s popular iTunes Music Store appeared to be back to normal Thursday, two days after shoppers wielding new iPods and gift cards faced error messages and long delays while trying to download songs.
Apple (nasdaq: AAPL - news - people ) officials didn't return telephone calls Thursday and the company has not explained why some shoppers on Monday and Tuesday experienced 20-minute delays to download a song.
But Wall Street analysts said the delays were probably caused by music sales that dramatically exceeded the Cupertino-based company's own forecasts and resulted in too many people trying to access the site at once.
Four times as many people visited the iTunes on Christmas than at the same time last year
, according to online market researcher Hitwise.
Apple commands about 75 percent of the market for downloaded music, but could lose as much as 5 percent of that market share in 2007 because of increased competition from rival services, according to [some dumb analysts like] Piper Jaffray..."
Share Fiasco Update:http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?p...tJk&refer=news
"Apple Shares Fall After FT Report of Jobs's Options (Update5)
By Ian King and Connie Guglielmo
Dec. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Shares of Apple Computer Inc. declined after the Financial Times reported Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs was given stock options in 2001 without the authorization of the company's board.
Company records that appear to show the full board considered a grant of 7.5 million stock options were falsified, the newspaper reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is examining the evidence, the report said.``It does create a certain amount of doubt as to whether Steve Jobs can stay with the company,'' Rob Enderle of the research firm Enderle Group said yesterday in an interview. ``It looks more and more serious.''
Apple is among the biggest names caught in a stock-option scandal that has widened to more than 190 companies. In June the maker of the iPod music player began an internal review of its grants, including one to Jobs. Apple said in October that it found 15 misdated grants from 1997 to 2002. The Recorder, a San Francisco-based legal newspaper, first reported yesterday on the discovery of possibly falsified documents related to options.
``We are providing all details regarding the internal independent investigation to the SEC and not commenting beyond that,'' Steve Dowling, an Apple spokesman, said by telephone.
John Nester, a spokesman for the SEC, refused to comment on the Financial Times article. Claude Stern, the partner in charge of the Redwood City, California, office of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, the law firm hired by Apple's board to examine the grants, declined to comment.
Shares of Cupertino, California-based Apple dropped 65 cents to $80.87 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market composite trading after falling as low as $79.65 earlier. The stock has gained 12 percent this year.
Jobs, 51, owns about 5.43 million shares of Apple, or 0.6 percent of the company, according to company filings with the SEC. The stake was worth $442 million at yesterday's closing price.
``The SEC has been looking very hard at these cases and they're working with the Department of Justice to put together criminal cases,'' said Bill Portanova, a former federal prosecutor in solo practice in Sacramento, California. ``When prosecutors are looking at something that they think is wrong in the first place, and they find paperwork in support of that thing that has been falsified, their appetite is whetted.''
When Apple released the results of its three-month investigation in October, it didn't disclose any falsified documents. The company said it found backdated option awards on 15 occasions from 1997 to January 2002. While Jobs was aware of some instances, he didn't benefit, Apple said.
Apple promised to submit restatements for the third quarter ended July 1 and the year ended Sept. 30 by the end of December.
Backdating allows executives to inflate the value of the stock options by retroactively choosing grant dates when the underlying shares are lower. Restatements, revisions and charges have topped $5.7 billion among the companies that have corrected their results thus far.
Jobs apologized to shareholders in October after finding instances of favorable grants. Apple said at the time the actions of two unnamed former executives raised ``serious concerns.'' Former Chief Financial Officer Fred Anderson, whose tenure included the five years when options were manipulated, resigned from the company's board.
While Jobs knew some options were backdated, he didn't benefit or understand the accounting, the company said. Apple added there has been no misconduct by current management.
The Recorder said yesterday federal prosecutors are examining whether Apple officials falsified documents to inflate the value of grants. The fake documents were uncovered during the company's internal probe, and the information was passed on to the U.S. Attorney's office, the Recorder said, citing people familiar with the case.
Helen Yee, a Justice Department spokeswoman in San Francisco, didn't return a phone call seeking comment after normal business hours.
``How does it affect the timing, predictability or size of cash flow of Apple going forward? The only way it can is if they implicate Jobs in some way,'' said James Grossman, a fund manager at Thrivent Financial for Lutherans in Appleton, Wisconsin. The firm oversees $65 billion including Apple shares.
``The charges are serious,'' said Grossman. ``I'm going to stick with the original statement by the company that Jobs isn't a part of it.'' "