Apple’s Stock Price After Product Announcements

Halfway through his otherwise excellent piece today for The New York Times on the introduction of the original iPhone in 2007, Fred Vogelstein interrupts the narrative to insert a cookie-cutter bit about Apple being lost without Steve Jobs at the helm. It includes this:

When Jobs ran Apple, the company was an innovation machine, churning out revolutionary products every three to five years. He told his biographer, Walter Isaacson, that he had another breakthrough coming — a revolution in TV. But under Cook, nothing has materialized, and the lack of confidence among investors is palpable. Apple product announcements used to routinely send its stock soaring. When Cook presented the latest smartphones in September, the iPhone 5c and the iPhone 5s, Apple’s stock fell 10 percent.

Leave aside for now the fact that Tim Cook has been CEO for only two years and that Vogelstein himself acknowledges that under Jobs, the revolutionary products came “every three to five years”. The stuff about the stock price is just nonsense — Apple’s stock price routinely fell after products announcements by Steve Jobs. For all the lip service paid to “innovation”, Wall Street tends to be conservative, rewarding the conventional and punishing the unconventional.

You can actually check these things. Stock prices and the dates of Steve Jobs’s product announcements are matters of fact:

The 10 percent drop in Apple’s share price on the day of the 5S/5C introduction is certainly unusual, but everything about Apple’s share price the last few years has been unusual, particularly its volatility. Wall Street does not understand the iPhone. But it’s wrong, factually and provably wrong, to claim that “Apple product announcements used to routinely send its stock soaring.” If anything, the opposite has been true: Apple stock has routinely fallen after product announcements, including the entire final decade of Steve Jobs’s career.