Options probe delays Apple annual report

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NEW YORK -- Apple Computer Inc. said Friday it has delayed filing its annual report with the Securities and Exchange Commission due to its ongoing investigation into stock option grants.

In a filing with the SEC, the company said it needs to restate historical financial statements to record charges for compensation related to past grants. As a result, Apple was unable to file its 10-K Form for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30 by the required filing date of Dec. 14.

The computer and iPod maker revealed in June that some stock options awarded to employees might have been mishandled. It launched an investigation that found accounting irregularities between 1997 and 2002 and showed that Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs was aware of some options backdating.

Apple said in October the probe did not uncover any misconduct by Jobs and other members of Apple's current management team but that it did raise "serious concerns" regarding the actions of two former officers.

It also prompted the resignation of Apple's former chief financial officer Fred Anderson from the company board. Apple did not elaborate at that time but said all details would be provided to the SEC.

When companies backdate stock options, the options are issued retroactively to coincide with low points in the stock price, which can increase the profit for the recipient. Backdating is not necessarily illegal, but it must be disclosed to investors and accounted for properly.

Apple expects to file its annual report and its quarterly report for the period ending July 1 by Dec. 29.

At least 190 companies have disclosed Justice Department, SEC or internal inquiries into their accounting of stock options, according to an Associated Press review.
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