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Steve Jobs and Apple probably picked the best day to announce medical leave

January 18, 2011 |  6:50 pm

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Steve Jobs and Apple might have picked the most ideal time possible to announce his medical leave -- on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, when the U.S. markets are closed, and just before releasing news of a 78% earnings increase.

And the decision to announce Jobs' break from day-to-day duties at Apple is probably a calculated one, as are many of the moves made by the secretive tech giant.

Andy Zaky, writing for Seeking Alpha, said he found the Jan. 18 release date for Apple's fiscal first-quarter earnings report "extremely peculiar" when it was announced a month ago.

"Here's why: Since 2007, Apple has always chosen to report earnings during the last week of the month in order to avoid the manipulation that usually comes with options expiration week," Zaky wrote. "If you go back at least 14-16 quarters, Apple has reported during the last week of the month in every one of those reporting periods."

The Tuesday earnings announcement, however, makes a lot more sense given Jobs' announcement that  he was taking an indefinite hiatus because of health issues.

John Gruber, writer of the popular tech blog Daring Fireball, wrote: "With the holiday yesterday and blockbuster results today, I think it's fair to say that yesterday was the single best day of the entire calendar year on which Jobs could have announced a medical leave of absence."

Apple reported a $6-billion profit on a record-setting revenue of $26.74 billion, largely on the success of the iPhone and the iPad.

One unintended consequence from Jobs' temporary decrease in duties at Apple is an apparent benefit for its competitors, as reported by Times columnist Tom Petruno over at our sister blog, Money & Company. Petruno wrote:

What's potentially bad for Apple -- co-founder Steve Jobs' surprise decision to take another medical leave of absence -- might have been viewed as good for the company's many tech rivals.

Nobody ever accused Wall Street of having a heart, after all.

While Apple dropped $7.83, or 2.2%, to close at $340.65, shares of Google Inc. surged $15.45, or 2.5%, to $639.63, a three-year high. Google's Android smart phone operating system is going head-to-head with Apple's iPhone, of course.

Among other tech giants and Apple combatants, Microsoft Corp. added 36 cents, or 1.3%, to $28.66; Oracle Corp. gained 28 cents, or 0.9%, to $31.53; and Dell Inc. was up 5 cents, or 0.4%, to $14.10.

BlackBerry smart phone maker Research in Motion Ltd. rose as much as 2.6% early Tuesday before falling back to close with a gain of 45 cents, or 0.7%, to $65.22.

Read more about how Apple might be helping their rivals in Petruno's post, Apple falls but its rivals gain, pushing Nasdaq index to 3-year high.

RELATED:

Apple quarterly profit surges 78% to $6 billion; shares fall 2.2% on Steve Jobs' medical leave

Steve Jobs no-show at Verizon iPhone event, the Daily delayed, due to health?

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

twitter.com/nateog

Photo: Apple CEO Steve Jobs speaks at an Apple Special Event on Sept. 1 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

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