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Apple share price declines with renewed concerns about Jobs’ health

By Laurie Bennett

January 17, 2011 at 12:16pm

Apple’s stock dropped Monday with the news that CEO Steve Jobs is taking a leave of absence.

In an email to employees published on the company’s web site, Jobs said he was taking a medical leave “so I can focus on my health.”

He will continue as CEO, but COO Timothy Cook will take over day-to-day operations.

Jobs did not specify his health problems or say how long he would be on leave.

Jobs also took a health leave in 2009, when he underwent a liver transplant. At that time, he did not disclose his reasons for the leave until after the surgery was revealed in a Wall Street Journal report.

The drop in stock price, measured in overseas markets since U.S. markets are closed for the Martin Luther King holiday, echoes uncertainties created by the secrecy surrounding his prior leave.

In his email, Jobs said he hoped to be back “as soon as I can.”

“In the meantime,” he wrote, “my family and I would deeply appreciate respect for our privacy.”

His wish is unlikely to be granted. When a CEO as prominent as Jobs - the embodiment of the Apple brand - suffers health problems, the concerns of shareholders, consumers and employees can outweigh the desire personal privacy.

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