The WSJ reports that federal authorities are actively investigating a backdated stock-option grant awarded to Steve Jobs, Apple’s (AAPL) CEO, that carried a false Oct’01 date, ppl familiar with the matter say. Apple recently disclosed that records were "improperly" created to claim that the grant was approved at a special board meeting that month. But no board meeting took place then. Investigators are now focusing on the grant to Mr. Jobs for 7.5m options that were finalized in Dec’01, when Apple's share price was higher. The false dating increased the value of the grant to Mr. Jobs, and resulted in a retroactive $20m charge to Apple's earnings when it was discovered by a special internal investigation. The false documentation was created by an Apple attorney named Wendy Howell, whom the co quietly dismissed last month. Ms. Howell contends that Apple's general counsel at the time, Nancy Heinen, instructed her to create the false documentation. Thomas Carlucci, Ms. Howell's attorney, said that while at Apple "Ms. Howell acted as instructed by Apple mgmt and with the co's best interest being paramount."
Barron’s Online discusses big pharmas, saying that despite setbacks last year at Pfizer (PFE) and other drug makers, Big Pharma has some big breakthroughs in store this year. Experts interviewed by Barron's Online, including doctors and industry analysts, helped identify 5 drugs that could advance treatment for certain serious conditions and pay off for drugs makers. The list includes Novartis’ (NVS) diabetes drug, Galvus, and its high-blood-pressure drug, Tekturna. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has a new breast-cancer drug, Tykerb, while Wyeth (WYE) has the antidepressant, Pristiq. Meanwhile, Sanofi-Aventis’ (SNY) long overdue diet drug, Acomplia, still awaits the FDA's approval, but should finally get launched this year.
“Inside Scoop” section reports that Iridian Asset Mgmt recently disclosed a 10% stake in HealthSouth (HLS) stock, or 8.2m shares, up from the 6.5% stake, or 5.2m shares, that it held at the end of the 3Q.