Apple's (AAPL) shares closed just fractionally lower on Thursday as shareholders mostly took in stride the death of visionary co-founder Steve Jobs, the man who made Apple the world’s most valuable technology company.
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The muted response to the death of Jobs, 56, reflects the expectation by many that his stepping down in late August as CEO meant his condition had deteriorated, and confidence in Apple’s new leadership to keep the profit machine running.
The situation at Apple will be closely watched as Jobs had been the tech giant’s chief visionary, helping to create and perfect transformational products like the iPod, the iPhone and more recently the iPad.
“While there could be some negative near-term knee jerk reaction to this unfortunate news, we believe the pieces are in place for Apple to greatly exceed expectations for the next couple of years, if not more,” Scott Sutherland, an analyst at Wedbush Morgan, wrote in a note, according to Dow Jones Newswires. “We, thus, believe investors should take advantage of any weakness.”
The markets appear to be heeding that advice as Apple’s stock avoided a kneejerk selloff on Thursday. After initially sliding more than 1% after trading resumed, Apple climbed more than 1% at one point before closing down just 0.49% to $377.37. Apple, which has soared more than 17% year-to-date, did underperform the broader markets, however, as the Nasdaq Composite rallied nearly 2% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 183 points.
Apple announced Wednesday evening the death of Jobs, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer more than seven years ago.
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In his absence, Apple has handed the keys to Tim Cook, who Jobs groomed for the top job for years and filled in for the CEO during a medical leave in 2009. So far Cook, formerly Apple’s chief operating officer, has been greeted by mostly positive reviews from analysts and employees alike.
“Clearly, there is no one like Steve Jobs in the tech world and Apple will never have another Steve Jobs at the helm, however, we believe he has created an incredibly talented team with Tim Cook as CEO that can lead Apple to continued success for many years to come,” Brian White, an analyst at Ticonderoga Securities, wrote in a note.