Yale corporate governance expert Stephen Davis thinks Apple (AAPL) should have been more forthright about Steve Jobs’ illness. He also describes the tone of the last line of Steve’s note today as “dismissive” of shareholders’ legitimate right to understand what’s going on.
WSJ: Stephen Davis, a corporate-governance expert at Yale University’s School of Management, doesn’t think [Apple disclosed enough about Steve Jobs’ health problems]. “This involves obviously millions of investors – it’s not just the health of one person at issue here, it’s the financial health of millions of investors and obviously millions more consumers,” says Mr. Davis.
Mr. Jobs’ letter, released this morning, said he had “a hormone imbalance that has been ‘robbing’ me of the proteins my body needs to be healthy.” The letter comes after months of speculation about Mr. Jobs’ health amid his big weight loss. But Mr. Davis doesn’t think it fully resolves the questions. “Apple has a culture of releasing information in dribs and drabs, and this is another example of that – there seems to be sort of a feeling that [shareholders] don’t necessarily require or deserve timely and regular disclosure about top management,” says Mr. Davis.
Mr. Davis didn’t find the description of the medical condition sufficient. “A ‘hormone imbalance’ is not something I’m familiar with, so it seems to me it would have been helpful for the company to provide some full background on what does that mean,” says Mr. Davis, who is a senior fellow at Yale’s Millstein centre for Corporate Governance and Performance. “It seems altogether mystifying.”
Mr. Davis sees the last line of Mr. Jobs’ letter as salt in the wound. Mr. Jobs wrote: “So now I’ve said more than I wanted to say, and all that I am going to say, about this.” Says Mr. Davis: “What would have been reassuring would be a statement saying, ‘As soon as we know anything further, we’ll let our [shareholders] know.'” As it is, “it’s dismissive of shareholders’ legitimate need to know what’s going on,” Mr. Davis says.