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Last Updated: Friday, 29 December 2006, 22:30 GMT
Apple reveals stock option errors
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Apple's sales are still soaring
Computer and electronics firm Apple has filed its financial reports on the last possible day, following delays linked to the backdating of stock options.

The firm said it took a charge of $84m (43m) for misdated options, some of which were awarded to boss Steve Jobs.

But Apple reiterated that its probe had found no misconduct by any current management, including Mr Jobs.

Like many other tech firms, Apple has admitted that some options awarded to executives had had their dates changed.

The effect of such a change could make options more lucrative when cashed in, if the changed date produced a lower price at which they could be exercised.

Many of the more than 150 firms implicated in backdating have been investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Apple said it was providing both the SEC and the Department of Justice with details of its internal inquiry.

The company also reported its results for the year ending in September 2006, which showed a 39% increase in sales to $19.3bn.

Macintosh laptops, up 43%, and iPods, up 69%, drove the sales boost - with the iPod numbers resulting in Apple, for the first time, making more money from selling iPod music players than by selling computers.

On an unaudited basis, the firm said it made profits for the year to September 2006 of $1.99bn - up 50%.

The news helped lift Apple's shares, which closed $3.97, or 4.9%, higher at $84.80.

Concerns

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs did not benefit from any misdated options, Apple said

In its 29 December filing, Apple said: "The board... is confident that the company has corrected the problems that led to the restatement.

"It has complete confidence in Steve Jobs and the senior management team."

The filing reiterated the findings released in October of its internal investigation, set up by a special committee of directors, which cleared current management.

But it also found that 15 stock option awards between 1997 and 2002 "appear(ed) to have grant dates that precede the approval of those grants".

The firm said the investigation also voiced concerns about two unnamed former executives.

'Unaware'

It remains unclear exactly what the problem has been, although several December reports have suggested that documents may have been altered.

During the day after the reports, Apple's share price sank as much as 5%, although it later recouped the day's losses.

The new filing says that while chief executive Mr Jobs did not himself gain from the backdated grants and was unaware of their accounting significance, he nevertheless was "aware or recommended the selection of" some of the favourable dates.

It also gives details of the grants which were misdated.

Many, it suggests, were the result of dating options to when a compensation committee agreed them, instead of when the board signed them off.

In some cases, the discrepancy was a single day - although for many the difference in dates is not specified.

Steve Jobs' options

For Mr Jobs, Apple's founder, the investigation found that one of two grants made between 1997 and 2002 had the wrong date.

The grant of 7.5 million options was initially approved at a board meeting in August 2001. They were dated 19 October and priced at that day's share price of $18.30 - up from $17.83 at the August meeting.

In fact, they were not finalised until 18 December, by which time Apple shares were worth $21.01.

The investigation found board sign-off had been "improperly recorded" as occurring at a 19 October "special board meeting" - a meeting it said had never occurred.

However, the company said that no evidence had been found that "any current member of management was aware of this irregularity".

Both the October grant and an earlier, correctly-dated one of 10 million options were surrendered by Mr Jobs in 2003 before they were used, resulting in no benefit to him.


SEE ALSO
Apple shares hit ahead of figures
28 Dec 06 |  Business
Apple finds stock option problems
05 Oct 06 |  Business
Stock option trouble hits Apple
30 Jun 06 |  Business
Apple warns on revising results
04 Aug 06 |  Business
US stock options inquiry deepens
09 Aug 06 |  Business

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