A pair of research reports released today from prominent research analysts disagree over whether Apple CEO Steve Jobs will make his first public appearance since returning from a medical leave of absence for a liver transplant by presenting at next week's media event in San Francisco.
Fortune points to a note to clients from Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, who predicts that Jobs will take the stage to unveil new iPods with digital cameras and possible updates to iTunes and iTunes Store offerings. While Munster predicts that the new product introductions will likely not impress investors looking for major news, he does note that an appearance by Jobs would be a positive for Apple's share price.
Jobs' return, however, is likely to be greeted by the Street as "a slight positive" for Apple's shares -- "the first public confirmation of Jobs' health since his return to the company," according to Munster.
Jobs last appearance at an Apple event was on Oct. 14, 2008, when he introduced the unibody MacBooks. In January he took a medical leave to replace his failing liver.
AppleInsider, however, cites a report from Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu, who does not see Jobs heading up next Wednesday's event.
Wu, however, believes the keynote will be delivered by Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing.
"It is not clear that Steve Jobs will be present," Wu said, "but most would welcome his appearance as a positive surprise."
Both reports appear to be based merely on speculation and not on any inside knowledge of Apple's plans for the event.