Tragedy in AAPLville

January 14, 2009 in Finance

This tragic story popped up in red all over my Bloomberg news feeds this afternoon:

16:35 *APPLE SHARES ARE HALTED BY NASD PENDING NEWS           :AAPL US
16:36 *APPLE SAYS JOBS TO TAKE MEDICAL LEAVE UNTIL END OF JUNE
16:36 *APPLE'S JOBS SAYS TIM COOK TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR DAY TO DAY OPS
16:37 *APPLE SAYS JOBS TO REMAIN INVOLVED IN MAJOR DECISIONS WHILE OUT
16:37 *APPLE'S JOBS SAYS HEALTH ISSUES MORE COMPLEX THAN THOUGHT
16:38 *APPLE'S JOBS SAYS CURIOSITY OVER HIS HEALTH 'DISTRACTION'
16:54 *APPLE QUOTES TO RESUME AT 4:55 P.M. IN NEW YORK, NASDAQ SAYS
17:00 *APPLE SHARES FALL 9.2% TO $77.50 AT 5 P.M. NEW YORK TIME

Unfortunately, it appears that all is not well with Steve Jobs.  The stock dipped 10% afterhours as traders digested the news.  RD points out the following data, available from the Nasdaq website:

 

AAPL afterhours activity, 1/14/09

You can see a steady chain of intermittent, relatively small trades leading up to the 4:35 halt of trading and subsequent announcement regarding Jobs' health.  (The two trades posted at 4:45 and 4:53 are trades from earlier which simply didn't settle until those times).  Take a look at that last trade right before the announcement (I've highlighted it in grey for the chronologically challenged).

Yes, it's 1000 times larger than any recent trade, representing $19mm changing hands.  Might that have been someone acting with a little inside information?  When trading resumed, the very next trade dropped the share price by 10%.  10% of $19mm is, of course, nearly $2mm.  Granted, it's not clear from this data whether that money was made, lost, or saved in the next half hour, but  I leave any further conclusions to the reader.

In any case, we wish Steve a swift return to health.

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