Jobs defends Apple options record


CUPERTINO, Calif. -- Apple Inc. chief executive Steve Jobs defended the company's record on stock option grants and joked about his $1-a-year salary in a spirited exchange at the computer and iPod maker's annual meeting Thursday.

"What did you know and when did you know it?" an AFL-CIO union representative asked Jobs about back-dated options granted to senior executives at Apple.

Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple previously said an internal review found two questionable options awarded to Jobs, but found no wrongdoing by him or other current management.

The SEC said late last month that it would not bring charges against Apple based in part "on its swift, extensive and extraordinary cooperation" in the investigation.

Jobs read that statement aloud during the question and answer session of the annual meeting at which the discussion about options and executive compensation arose.

"I think I'm going to read that sentence again," Jobs said. And then he did.

"Unless you think there's a conspiracy with the SEC, I don't know what to say," Jobs said.

Apple said in December it would take an $84 million charge for misdating more than 6,400 stock options.

Apple is among dozens of companies under scrutiny for their accounting of stock options granted to executives. The main issue for many companies is whether they changed the date of stock options grants to take advantage of a temporary decline in the underlying share price.

As expected, all six shareholder proposals were defeated. Two of the six, which asked Apple to be more environmentally responsible, were withdrawn at the meeting following a letter that Jobs posted earlier this month on Apple's Web site about the company's environmental policies.

Shareholders pressed Jobs about what determines his compensation. Jobs has for years taken $1 a year in salary, and the Apple co-founder said: "I get 50 cents a year for just showing up. The other 50 cents is based on my performance."

Shares of Apple closed at a record $107.34, up 46 cents.