By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
February 14, 2012

Scheduled to make a rare appearance at a Goldman Sachs technology conference

It’s been nearly four years since Tim Cook, then Apple’s (AAPL) chief operating officer, appeared at a Goldman Sachs investors symposium to answer the urgent questions that had been piling up all winter.

The stock had fallen more than $80 a share — to below $120 — in the space of a month and the tech press was filled with rumors of component shortages and predictions of missed iPhone targets.

Cook spoke for 45 minutes with such confidence and easy command of the facts that the relief among the packed audience was palpable.

“I was just impressed as I could be,” wrote one listener. “I am always haunted by the vulnerability of Apple’s shareholders like myself if something should happen to Steve Jobs. For the first time, listening yesterday to Tim Cook made me feel confident that in him was a person who could ably step in if Jobs fell off the earth.” (See The day Tim Cook calmed the waters.)

Cook is scheduled to make a return appearance before another Goldman Sachs conference today, Tuesday, Feb. 14 (Valentine’s Day) at 3:30 p.m. Eastern (12:30 p.m. Pacific) under very different circumstances.

Steve Jobs is dead. Cook is the new CEO. And Apple can seem to do no wrong. It crossed the $500 mark Monday to end the day at $502.60, up $9.18 (1.86%). It is now the world’s most valuable company — by far — with a market cap of $468.61 billion and roughly $100 billion in cash and marketable securities.

The only question investors seem to have today is when Apple plans to share some of that cash with them.

Apple will be streaming Cook’s remarks live via Quicktime here.

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