Apple Stock to Plunge on Steve Jobs News?

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AppleApple (AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs stunned the technology world Monday when he announced that he would take yet another leave of absence from the company to focus on his health. Jobs will remain on as CEO while he tends to his medical needs, but Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook will assume all of the day-to-day operations.

The news of Jobs's medical leave comes after two previous health scares: The consumer technology giant's founder and CEO beat pancreatic cancer in 2004 and had a liver transplant in 2009. Through it all, Apple has been criticized on how it has opaquely communicated Jobs's health problems.

A Dimmed Future

It's still unclear exactly what is currently ailing Jobs, but many investors are likely thinking that it doesn't bode well for the future of Apple. And many may be beginning to see the day approaching when Jobs will no longer occupy the CEO slot at Apple. While Tim Cook is a very able chief operating officer, it's likely that his skills complement, rather than overlap, those of Jobs -- the most important of which is coming up with a stream of highly popular new product ideas and getting them into the market.

Without Jobs at the helm of Apple, its future would simply not be as bright. And there is certainly a precedent for having someone other than Jobs at Apple's helm -- witness the mediocre performance of John Sculley as Apple CEO from 1983 to 1994 and Gil Amelio from then until Jobs returned in 1997. It would be surprising if there's another person on the planet who could duplicate Jobs's abilities as CEO.

Apple shareholders, take note. The stock could plunge when it opens for trading in the U.S. Tuesday. The news has already taken a bite out of U.S. stock futures. In the near term, it will likely continue to be a rocky road for Apple's stock until Jobs's health situation becomes clear -- an answer that investors hope will come soon.

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