UPDATED 12:12 EDT / JANUARY 18 2011

Apple Reports Earnings this Evening, In the Wake of Jobs’s Medical Leave Analysts Not Concerned

apple-logo-litebrite This week, Monday, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced an indefinite leave of absence from his company for medical reasons. The proclamation caught the tech industry by surprise and ripples of concern ran through the media, pondering what direction investors and the market might head with this particular event generating uncertainty. He emphasized that he’s not leaving in a lurch and handed the reins over to COO Tim Cook who has ably piloted the corporation in the past when Jobs found himself indisposed.

Predictably, analysis are not all that shook up over the announcement and have speculated that the timing suggests that Apple expects to beat estimated earnings in their report later today. The Wall Street Journal checked the usual gauges as to the temperature of expectations in the market and things look pretty calm.

Several Wall Street analysts advised clients to buy Apple stock on expected weakness Tuesday morning. “We are buyers on any meaningful pullback of Apple’s share price,” said Katy Huberty of Morgan Stanley. “We expect the company to report strong December quarter results Tuesday night.”

Analysts also expressed confidence that the company would be in good hands while Mr. Jobs is on leave. Mr. Jobs is still expected to be involved in strategic decisions, and COO Tim Cook is ready to take on a larger role, they said.

“Since 2009, we believe it is likely that Mr. Cook had an increased role in day-to-day operations such that there is, in our view, likely to be little change going forward,” wrote UBS analyst Maynard Um.

Apple stock did drop 6.5% Tuesday morning, a loss of almost $20 billion in market value, but it might be a repercussion as the tech industry reels over uncertainly surrounding the announcement. However, with many analysis shrugging their shoulders and pointing out that while CEO Steve Jobs may be out of the game currently, his immediate absence from the company won’t erase his indelible effect and the general momentum the corporation has gained under his watchful eye. Of course, it was also spelled out in his press release that he’s not cutting himself off entirely.

Many have also mentioned that COO Tim Cook is no neophyte to the company and has plied his hand at the wheel before.

Apple most likely stands to regain much of their market drop after tonight if their earnings do display a significant overage against estimates, which would make for a brilliant move for announcing the CEO’s medical leave right now. Bad news, then good news, like a spoonful of honey to help get medicine go down and mollify whatever fears might have wormed their way into the minds of investors.

All eyes will be on those earnings reports now, especially those of analysis who urge stock marketers that there’s no reason to withdraw their support just because CEO Jobs needs a break to tend to his own health.

The real meat of the speculation right now ponders at a possible changing of the guard. Does this mean that CEO Jobs is slowly withdrawing himself from the helm and grooming COO Cook to take his place? “Brian Marshall at Gleacher & Co. expects that Mr. Cook ‘will become the full-time CEO of Apple this year with Jobs hopefully serving as a senior advisor.’”

We’ve seen this sort of lateral move before when then Microsoft CEO Bill Gates did something similar and transitioned in Steve Ballmer, the software giant is still a giant and there’s no reason why Apple couldn’t do the same. Steve Jobs has had a mighty impact on the company in his position of CEO and his legacy is permanently etched into its history and its likely course.

In the wake of his medical leave, many have been calling to leave Steve Jobs alone (or at least go gentle on his image) and it’s good to see that analysts are sticking to the professional business. In fact, Dan Lyons, long-time lampoon and satirist who ran the Twitter account of the fake Steve Jobs has signed out for the time being and urged others to let the CEO have his rest.

He’s done an amazing, fine job and if he needs a break, it’s about time the world let him have one.


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