Apple's Cook fields his A-team before a wary Wall Street

Wed Oct 31, 2012 11:18pm EDT
 
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By Poornima Gupta

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Inc Chief Executive Tim Cook's new go-to management team of mostly familiar faces failed to drum up much excitement on Wall Street, driving its shares to a three-month low on Wednesday.

The world's most valuable technology company, which had faced questions about a visionary-leadership vacuum following the death of Steve Jobs, on Monday stunned investors by announcing the ouster of chief mobile software architect Scott Forstall and retail chief John Browett -- the latter after six months on the job.

Cook gave most of Forstall's responsibilities to Macintosh software chief Craig Federighi, while some parts of the job went to Internet chief Eddy Cue and celebrated designer Jony Ive.

But the loss of the 15-year veteran and Jobs's confidant Forstall, and resurgent talk about internal conflicts, exacerbated uncertainty over whether Cook and his lieutenants have what it takes to devise and market the next ground-breaking, industry-disrupting product.

Apple shares ended the day down 1.4 percent at 595.32. They have shed a tenth of their value this month -- the biggest monthly loss since late 2008, and have headed south since touching an all-time high of $705 in September.

For investors, the management upheaval from a company that usually excels at delivering positive surprises represents the latest reason for unease about the future of a company now more valuable than almost any other company in the world.

Apple undershot analysts targets in its fiscal third quarter, the second straight disappointment. Its latest Maps software was met with widespread frustration and ridicule over glaring mistakes. Sources told Reuters that Forstall and Cook disagreed over the need to publicly apologize for its maps service embarrassment.

And this month, Apple entered the small-tablet market with its iPad mini, lagging Amazon.com Inc and Google Inc despite pioneering the tablet market in 2010.   Continued...

 
Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook takes the stage during Apple Inc.'s iPhone media event in San Francisco, California September 12, 2012. REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach