Jobs' leave of absence takes bite out of Apple


Apple shares tanked after hours Wednesday on news that CEO Steve Jobs is taking a medical leave of absence until the end of June because his medical condition is "more complex" than originally thought and his health poses a distraction for the company.

In an e-mail to staff published by Apple after the market close, Jobs said he has tapped COO Tim Cook as the executive in charge of day-to-day operations.

"As CEO, I plan to remain involved in major strategic decisions while I am out," Jobs wrote. "Our board of directors fully supports this plan."

According to Apple's Web site, Cook has been responsible for the company's worldwide sales and operations and heads the Macintosh division. Before Apple, he held executive posts at Compaq and IBM, among others.

Jobs also serves on the board of Disney and is the entertainment giant's largest individual shareholder. Disney officials weren't immediately available for comment.

Following the Jobs update, Apple's stock fell sharply after hours and hit levels below its 52-week low of $79.14. During the regular trading session Wednesday, the stock lost 2.7% to $85.33.

Last week, Jobs said he would continue to fulfill his job functions despite suffering from a hormone imbalance. He didn't provide specifics Wednesday as to why his situation is now more complex. (partialdiff)