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Without Steve Jobs, Apple is Still a Buy

A decade ago, Apple shares were trading for around $9. And the stock ranked #287 on the S&P 500. Today it is the second most valuable company in the world.

Earlier this month, fittingly, as CEO, Steve Jobs saw the company briefly surpass Exxon Mobile as the world’s most valuable company by market cap.

And since Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, the stock is up over 9,000%.

During Jobs time, the company’s PC market share in the U.S. has grown from 4.4% in 1998 to 9.1% in 2010. In 2007 the company had a 14.8% share of the U.S. smartphone market. Last year it grew to 25.1%… and the company recently ousted Nokia as the number one smartphone vendor in the world, with a 19.5% share of the market. And today, Apple stores have the highest sales per square foot of any retailer in the U.S., according to RetailSales.

Steve Jobs resignation does not signal the end of Apple’s run. There are a couple of reasons for that. Jobs is, without question, a tech visionary. And he used that vision to assemble a ‘deep bench’ of talent that will maintain the culture he built.

And the product development cycle is long. The next wave of Apple products are already in some phase of design, and that means it while be quite a while before we see the company without Jobs. Even at that, he has left his imprint on many facets of Apple.

The company’s success is the direct result of Job’s focus. As a CEO, he was involved every detail. He has the ability to communicate ideas, and the clarity to turn those ideas into realities. His departure is a loss, but his influence is ingrained in the company. Not bad for a CEO that earned $1 per year.

The bottom line: Apple has held its own, and performed better than many amid recent market volatility. And I expect that it will continue to hold its own in the foreseeable future. I like Apple today as much as I did before last week’s announcement.

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