Apple Inc’s first day without Steve Jobs as CEO looked awfully similar to most other days: Its share price beat the broader stock market.
In announcing he could no longer fulfill his duties and would resign as CEO, Jobs made headlines worldwide and raised questions about the future of a US$350 billion company that revolutionized computing and consumer electronics.
Investors took the shift in their stride, expressing confidence in Apple’s product pipeline, managers and newly appointed CEO Tim Cook, who promised the company would stay the course.
“Steve built a company and culture that is unlike any other in the world and we are going to stay true to that — it is in our DNA,” Cook, 50, wrote in a memo to staff.
Shares closed down less than 1 percent at US$373.62 and outperformed the major stock indexes. Shares are up nearly 57 percent in the past year and remain a favorite of analysts even in the absence of Jobs. At least 13 brokerages maintained their stock price targets in research notes issued on Thursday.
Often mentioned in the same breath as Henry Ford, Thomas Edison or Walt Disney, Jobs is credited with bringing Apple back from the brink of disaster. Since his return to Apple in 1996, after an absence of more than a decade, the company’s stock price has climbed about 9,000 percent.
In recent years, Jobs’ battle with pancreatic cancer has been of deep concern to Apple fans and investors. Jobs, 56, who has been on medical leave since January, will become chairman.
“Over the course of last year, investors have become more comfortable with the idea of life after Jobs,” Edward Jones analyst Bill Kreher said. “I think it is encouraging that he will remain with the company as chairman, but the real story is that Tim Cook has emerged as a capable successor.”
Cook, a former Compaq executive and an acknowledged master of supply-chain management, has taken over the helm in each of Jobs’ three health-related absences, including his most recent one starting on Jan. 17.
His first big test could come as early as next month, when, according to a source, Apple is planning to introduce the iPhone 5 — the sort of occasion that Jobs the showman could turn into a spectacle.
Cook, who was chief operating officer, is typically more low-key in public and around the office, according to those who have worked for him.
“Tim is an extremely analytical, methodical leader, data-driven, objective and unemotional,” one -former Apple executive said. “That is in contrast to his former boss.”
Jobs briefly emerged from his leave in March to unveil the latest version of the iPad and later to attend a dinner hosted by US President Barack Obama for technology leaders.
Yet his gaunt appearance sparked questions about how bad his illness was and his ability to continue at Apple.
“I will say to investors: ‘Don’t panic and remain calm — it’s the right thing to do. Steve will be chairman and Cook is CEO,’” BGC Financial analyst Colin Gillis said.
Jobs did not give details on the state of his health, but oncologists who have not treated the Apple founder said he could be facing several problems tied to his rare form of pancreatic cancer and subsequent liver transplant.
Such problems include possible hormone imbalances or a recurrence of cancer that is harder to fight once the body has been weakened.