AAPL Stock May Have Found its Saving Grace
Tim Cook, the current chief executive officer (CEO) of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), hasn’t always impressed investors. AAPL stock has performed reasonably well during his tenure, but its growth was nothing compared to that under the legendary Steve Jobs.
Maybe it was too high a bar for anyone to cross. Steve Jobs is more of a household name than any CEO in American history, having been immortalized through a constant barrage of books and films. He defined what it meant to be “visionary.”
That’s a hard act to follow.
His relationship with Apple, from founder to outcast and back again, followed the classic arc of death and resurrection. Be it his odd personal habits of not wearing shoes or his tyrannical obsession with product design, the man resonated with our image of a mad genius.
By contrast, Tim Cook is boring. He is to Steve Jobs what vanilla ice cream is to rocky road. But now it looks like Cook found a successor who’s the best of both worlds: a combination of Tim Cook and Steve Jobs. His name is Jeff Williams. (Source: “Apple Names Jeff Williams Chief Operating Officer,” Apple Inc. press release, December 17, 2015.)
What to Expect from New Apple COO
This past week, Tim Cook elevated Williams from senior vice president to chief operations officer (COO). The promotion is widely seen as a primer for taking over the top spot at Apple, especially since Cook himself used to be COO.
Both Cook and Williams are excellent at organizing a large-scale company, which Apple certainly is. Moreover, the company needs to use its resources carefully as the well of smartphone users runs dry. New product lines are needed. (Source: “This man could be the next CEO of Apple,” Yahoo! Finance, December 17, 2015.)
Managing that expansion in a careful way is what Tim Cook was good at. By letting Apple engineers do the actual innovating, he freed himself up to coordinate a cohesive strategy. Unfortunately, he couldn’t translate that into higher gains for Apple stock because investors didn’t buy into his vision.
The best CEOs in today’s market are powerful communicators. Just look at Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. Both of these guys couldn’t have gotten their companies off the ground without knowing how to capture the imagination of investors.
One wants to make an “Everything Store” for the world (Amazon.com Inc.) and the other wants to solve the world’s energy crisis (Tesla Motors Inc. and SolarCity Corp.). Steve Jobs was just as talented at communicating, but Tim Cook had no idea how to effectively manage investor expectations.
Jeff Williams may be able to bridge that divide. By all accounts, he knows how to move seamlessly between boardrooms and casual conversations where technical jargon hurts your ability to connect with listeners. Tim Cook doesn’t have that switch. (Source: Ibid.)
Jeff Williams: The Real Savior of AAPL Stock?
When Apple was getting a lot of heat about how its Chinese suppliers treat its workers, Williams was sent to put out the fire. Clearly he did his job well. I don’t remember hearing much about that scandal in the last year or two.
Ability to put out fires? Check. Ability to communicate effectively? Check.
Williams even has odd idiosyncrasies that give him a Jobs-esque persona. Despite being number two in command at the world’s largest company, he still drives a beat-up Toyota “Camry.” Wall Street is going to love this guy.