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Wednesday, December 27, 2006, 09:00 am PT (12:00 pm ET)

Apple options issues unlikely to impact Jobs

A recent pullback in shares of Apple Computer presents a buying opportunity, according to analysts at PiperJaffray, who believe there is a very low likelihood that chief executive Steve Jobs will be affected by the company's ongoing stock-option woes.

"If individuals at Apple did falsify certain options documents, that is clearly a negative for the company, but we believe there is less than a 5 percent chance that Steve Jobs would have been personally involved," analyst Gene Munster wrote in a note to clients Wednesday morning.

Munster was responding to a news report published on Law.com Tuesday that suggested individuals within Apple falsified certain options documents and that the company will make those actions public in its 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission this Friday.

Shares of the Cupertino, Calif.-based company slid more than 5 percent in early morning trading as a result of the report, which added that Jobs has hired independent legal counsel amid concerns over a criminal investigation into the matter.

"We would have expected that he have his own legal counsel for the duration of the options investigation," Munster said of Jobs. "If the 10-K suggests that former officers were involved in falsifying certain options related documents, but does not suggest Jobs was involved, we expect the stock will rebound."

The analyst said he does not believe the Apple co-founder had a general interest in compensation matters, "let alone an interest in falsifying documents related to compensation." He also cited Apple's internal investigation, which found no involvement by any current executives, in support of his assessment.

"We see today's pullback in Apple shares as a buying opportunity," Munster wrote.