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Apple chief Jobs takes a medical leave; stock falls

Steve Jobs is being treated for a nutritional ailment. Steve Jobs is being treated for a nutritional ailment.
Bloomberg News / January 15, 2009
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SAN FRANCISCO - Apple Inc. chief executive Steve Jobs, who said this month he is being treated for a nutritional ailment, will take a medical leave of absence through the end of June. The shares fell as much as 10 percent but recovered to a 2.7 percent loss in regular trading.

Chief operating officer Tim Cook will take over Apple's day-to-day operations, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company said yesterday. Jobs said he will remain involved in major strategic decisions.

"During the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought," Jobs said in the company's statement. "In order to take myself out of the limelight and focus on my health, and to allow everyone at Apple to focus on delivering extraordinary products, I have decided to take a medical leave of absence."

Jobs, who cofounded Apple in 1976, returned as chief executive in 1997 and transformed the money-losing maker of Macintosh computers.

His focus on design and simple-to-use gadgets won over millions of buyers, turning Apple's iPod media player and iPhone into best sellers. Jobs, who had successful surgery for pancreatic cancer in 2004, appeared thinner at Apple events last year.

"With the markets already nervous, a visionary founder and leader of a company taking a leave of absence is not good news," said Romeo Dator, a portfolio manager for U.S. Global Investors Inc. in San Antonio.

Dator helps oversee about $100 million, including Apple shares. "The part I find most troublesome is the health issues being more complex than they thought at first."

Apple shares fell $2.38 to $85.33 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

Apple spokesman Steve Dowling declined to comment and said Cook and Apple's board members aren't available for interviews.

Jobs said this month he is suffering from a nutritional ailment and that he planned to remain Apple's chief executive during his treatment.

"I have been losing weight throughout 2008. The reason has been a mystery to me and my doctors," Jobs, who turns 54 in February, said this month. "After further testing, my doctors think they have found the cause - a hormone imbalance that has been robbing me of the proteins my body needs to be healthy."

Although he has started treatment, Jobs said his doctors advised him that it may take until at least late spring to regain weight.

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