Apple shares fell as much as 5.4 per cent this morning after a report on CNN's "citizen journalist" web site said Steve Jobs had suffered a major heart attack.
According to Bloomberg, the computer maker/cult denied the report, and shares promptly rebounded. At last check, they sat at $104.51, up 4.4 per cent in trading on the NASDAQ exchange.
Sometime this morning, an anonymous poster unloaded the following paragraph on iReport, a CNN-owned site dedicated to
citizen journalism unfounded rumor:
Steve Jobs was rushed to the ER just a few hours ago after suffering a major heart attack. I have an insider who tells me that paramedics were called after Steve claimed to be suffering from severe chest pains and shortness of breath. My source has opted to remain anonymous, but he is quite reliable. I haven't seen anything about this anywhere else yet, and as of right now, I have no further information, so I thought this would be a good place to start. If anyone else has more information, please share it.
At about 10am Eastern time, Silicon Alley Insider posted a denial from Apple. "It is not true," said Katie Cotton, Apple vp of worldwide communications. According to Silicon Alley, the iReport post remained online for another twenty minutes before being removed.
At one point this morning, Apple's share price hit a 17-month low of $94.65.
Over the past year, the company's stock has dropped 49 per cent, due at least in part to questions over the health of its cult leader. Four years ago, Jobs had surgery to treat pancreatic cancer, and when he turned up at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference in July to unveil the 3Jesus Phone, he was noticeable thinner than usual.
Twelve days after his WWDC appearance, The New York Times reported that Jobs had "assured several people" that he was cancer free.
A month after that, Bloomberg published a 17-page Jobs obituary. But it would appear he is very much alive. Unfortunately, so is online citizen journalism.
Silicon Alley Insider Henry Blodget predicts that iReport post will lead to an SEC investigation. And he knows a thing or two about the SEC investigating alleged Wall Street fraud. In 2003, the SEC banned him from the financial industry for life. ®