Jobbing backwards

There’s a phrase in broking that sums up most of our daily experiences in Capital Markets. It’s “one should never JOB backwards”… refers to the old days of Jobbers and Brokers on the Stock Exchange, London (as it used to be called) and suggests that no jobber should ever think about the lost opportunity; he should never ever JOB backwards.

So I should apologise to the late Steve Jobs’s family for the pun but just once I’m going to JOB backwards and take a look at my father’s dealing book of 1980 when Apple Inc floated at US$22 per share.I was a young trainee broker back then. The green dealing book has just been pulled off the shelf and I’m dusting it off now. I recollect that this was the twilight period of technology investing and to my knowledge none of the UK institutions were really looking at what was to become Silicon Valley back then. Amongst private brokers in London there were perhaps a half a dozen individuals investing in this area at the time and generally speaking many financiers simply scorned the new computer age up to 30th December 1980 as it didn’t register on their radar.In the 2 weeks leading up to the Apple flotation my father’s international dealing book reads;-

+400 Westinghouse
-600 Culbro
-1,400 Echlin
+1,400 Great Basin Petroleum
-600 Callon Petroleum
+1,000 Digicon
+16,000 Hitachi
-2,000 Petroleum Helicopters
+2,000 TIE Communications
+2,000 Statex Petroleum
+2,500 Sci-Tex
-2,500 Sci-Tex

(a few names are still around)

& then

+1,000 Apple Computers @ $36 on 30th December 1980
(issued at $22 I understand although the Red Herring IPO document is long perished)

I remember at the time thinking that the Apple float was a momentous moment for business. The Acorn, Sinclair and Amstrad pc’s were to follow.

& then further entries can be found throughout 1981
+1,000 Apple Computers @ $33 1/4 6th January 1981
+200 Apple Computers @ $31 1/8 15th January 1981
+200 Apple Computers @ $29 1/8 6th February 1981
+500 Apple Computers @ $25 3/4 27th March 1981
+500 Apple Computers @ $31 1/4 27th May 1981

I’m not going to look any further but by my reckoning clients bought up to this point 3,400 AAPL shares costing $109,800 ignoring expenses which if held today would be worth in the region of $10 million although most of this gain would have been arrived at since 1997. As you can see from the prices paid it was touch and go for investors and insiders to see some daylight from the $22 issue price by March 1981. Apple continued to have a bumpy ride until Jobs returned to the company in the late ’90s.

(note to the government & FSA- I suspect that the clients who bought into the Apple opportunity at the time would have been a bit bemused about the current FSA suitability rules and may even have been scared off by the compliance experience)

I recollect that I traded Apple stock myself for clients in 1980’s but not very successfully. The recent spectacular rises took years of innovation and insight and Jobs will be remembered for changing the face of our lives. From the personal computer to iTunes, to the iPad and to the iPhone4 GS.

RIP Steve.

ps I must ask my father if he met Jobs at the IPO launch.

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