Are jargon-weary investors ditching Apple?

Despite announcing record sales, Apple experienced a 10% fall in its share price yesterday. Investors, it’s been claimed, are out of love with Apple.

Is it any wonder, when the firm’s investor relations homepage contains this sort of impenetrable gunk:

Reclassification of Historical Information
In fiscal year 2013, Apple established the Greater China operating segment, reallocated certain manufacturing costs and variances to its operating segments, and realigned the presentation of product information in its summary data schedule to provide greater visibility to revenue by product category. Reclassification of historical information to align with the new presentation is available here. [Links to various spreadsheets]

It’s hard to be sure, but this text appears to be saying: “we’ve jigged a few columns around to make the figures look better”. Hardly instils confidence, does it?

Nefarious nonsense like this just confirms our long-held view that whenever a company starts talking gobbledygook to its shareholders, that’s the time to pull your money out.

JJB Sports, Clinton Cards and Kodak are all examples of ailing firms that have hidden a poor performance behind the kind of pretentious, highly abstract biz-blather Apple now seems to be adopting.

Incidentally, we’ve also noticed that, post-Jobs, Apple has begun talking to its customers in the kind of mealy-mouthed corpspeak that was previously the preserve of its competitors.

Lesson: If you’re writing an annual report or other document for investors, make like Warren Buffett and be clear, honest and to the point. Even if the news is bad, the more your shareholders trust you, the more likely they are to stick around.

6 comments so far . . . come and pitch in!

  1. Andrew Denny says:

    “Segments” come in oranges, not Apple, surely?

  2. Dave Allen says:

    Post-Jobs Apple seem to have given up on coming up with new ideas for products too, each iPhone/iPad version just seems to be a churned out rehash of the last effort.

    It’s all starting to look a little cynical really and the shift to corporate jargon seems to reflect this.

  3. Paul Eveleigh says:

    If investors had been more wary of corporate gobbledygook, we may have avoided the global financial crisis.

    Take annual reports. Leave aside banks. Did anyone grasp the glossy annual reports pumped out by Enron Corporation and Lehman Bros and myriad other dodgy financial institutions?

    Apple joins a long list of companies using gobbledygook to hide bad financial news. T’was ever thus.

  4. […] their article titled Are jargon-weary investors ditching Apple?, they point out that Apple’s investor relations webpage has recently become jargon-cluttered: […]

  5. Helen says:

    This morning I received an email from my bank – or rather from Niall Booker, Chief Executive of The Co-operative Bank.

    Apart from a couple of phrases that made me wince (‘we will be engaging with you […] going forward’, ‘we have strengthened […] our capital position’) it’s admirably readable, with a grade level of between 9 and 11.

    I’m choosing to take this as a good sign.

  6. Clare Lynch says:

    Definitely a good sign, Helen!

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