Who Is Tim Cook and Can He Truly Replace Steve Jobs?

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In 2004: Cook filled in for Jobs in August and September. On August 6, 2004, Apple’s stock was trading at $14.89 per share—its lowest level in months. By October 8, 2004, the stock was trading at $19.53 per share. By the end of the year, with Jobs back, the stock was at $32.20 per share.

In 2009: Cook filled in for Jobs from mid-January until the end of June. On January 16, 2009, Apple’s stock was again at its lowest level in months: $82.33 per share. By July 2, 2009, the stock was trading at $140.02 per share. Apple finished out the year at $210.73 per share.

(LIST: Top 10 Apple Moments)

2011: Jobs announced he was going on a medical leave of absence on January 17, with Apple stock hovering at around $340 per share. By January 21, the stock dipped to one of its lowest levels of the year at around $332 (the lowest 2011 level was $315 on June 20). The stock also hit its all-time highest on July 26 ($403). Though Cook has been handling daily operations at Apple pretty much all year, Jobs has made two high-profile product announcement appearances this year—Apple’s developer conference keynote in early June and the unveiling of the iPad 2 in March.

So Steve Jobs appears to have a positive affect on Apple stock while he’s in charge (or when he comes back from a leave of absence) and a negative affect on the stock when he initially goes on a leave of absence. But under Cook’s watch this year, Apple has become the most valuable company in the world and seen its stock price at all-time high levels.

Again, “Tim is the guy who takes all those designs and turns it into a big pile of cash.” Apple loses some definite intangibles as Jobs steps down—no doubt about it. But I’d argue that the company finds itself in some of most capable hands around with Tim Cook running things. Short term, it’ll be just fine. Long term, well, that’s what’ll be most interesting to watch.

MORE: End of an Era: Apple’s Steve Jobs Steps Down, Tim Cook Steps Up

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