If Tim Cook Gets Fired, I'm Dumping My Apple

TheStreet.com

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- It seems everybody has an opinion when it comes to Apple . It is remarkable how some people who have a hard time managing their weekly household budgets think they have better operational ideas and can run one of the largest companies in the world better than its CEO.

Look, it's easy to dump on Apple and in particular, Tim Cook, while the stock is down. But let's have some perspective. I'm not Cook's biggest fan, either. But it takes more than just a cursory look at the stock price and a couple of hiccups to demand his firing. I'm not here on some moral high ground coming to Cook's defense but the public sometimes seems too emotional and uneducated on what it's asking for.

Apple understands its current market position. To that end, it's more than ridiculous that we, who are on the outside looking in, feel that we have more urgency than Cook to get Apple to improve its performance. It's nonsense! While we want to chronically place Cook on the proverbial "hot seat," ask yourself, have the last six months really mattered more than the last six years?

Has Apple's growth momentum slowed? Without a doubt it has. But the company has not been a complete disaster, either. It's not Apple's fault that the stock market got dumb and our expectations got out of control. That's not to say that I'm content with the stock's recent performance. But I also understand that it was not Apple's fault that its stock went to $705.


Despite growing pessimism about Tim Cook's performance, Apple's most recent quarter told a different story. We need to be careful when throwing the word "disappointment" towards Cook's direction. Apple is coming off a quarter, during which the company posted 52% sequential revenue growth, which also advanced 18% year over year.

Now let's keep this performance in the context of Apple's immense size. The company at the time was still the largest in the world according to market cap. So, while you are comfortably calling for Cook's firing from your recliner, it needs to be followed with who should replace Cook and what should be the standard of performance. That's the only way for your suggestion to carry any weight.

It's not enough to say "Apple can't innovate therefore he should be gone." As well, that statement should be supported with a mention of a company that is "out-innovating the market." I'm realizing that this has become a fight about ideals and values. What the market thinks it knows and what Apple has become are two separate things.

Apple is in a period of transition. As such, the stock has been transitioning with it. That doesn't mean that Cook is a worse CEO than when the stock was at $705. The market is the one that is having a hard time decoding what Apple is becoming. Is the company still a growth play or has it become strictly a value stock?

However, to suggest that Cook deserves to be fired because investors are having a hard time making this decision is ridiculous. In fact, I will go on record and say that Tim Cook will not be fired. Better still, I will proclaim that Steve Ballmer will be out at Microsoft before Cook gets canned at Apple.


Apple today is the same company to which analysts were assigning 4-digit price targets several months ago. The only difference is the competition has gotten better. Now, is that Tim Cook's fault that BlackBerry has shown some improvement?

Can Cook control the traction that Samsung gained with the lower priced phones. How can "Apple remain Apple" if we are asking the company to sacrifice its ideals? Or is it that Cook deserves to be out because our feelings have gotten hurt that he refuses to pick up our phone calls and read our suggestion box inserts?

When will actual performance matter to those that are calling for his ouster? How many iPhones and iPads does Apple have to sell to finally shut you up? Does Cook deserve to keep his job if Apple reaches $200 billion in revenue by 2014? How much margin must Apple preserve?

The hot topic of late has been David Einhorn and his fight against Apple to get the company to distribute its $137 billion cash hoard. But with a yield of 1.90%, Apple is already one of the most generous payers on the market. Can Cook stay if he increases the dividend?

If we want to continue to discuss Cook's firing, that's fine. But let's have a conversation that involves some substance for a change. Calling for Cook's firing solely on the argument that he is not Steve Jobs is an old and tiring debate.

There has been no other company that has come close to Apple's level of execution, including an average of 35% earnings and revenue growth over the past decade. During that span not only have the company's sales risen from $6 billion in 2002 to more than $130 billion, profits have also grown significantly. But now somehow we know better. Whatever!

At the time of publication, the author held shares of Apple and no position in any of the other stocks mentioned.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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