Analyst: Jobs Absence a Trial Period for Cook

Apple CEO Steve Jobs revealed on Wednesday that he is taking a temporary leave of absence for health reasons, but AmTech analyst Bryan Marshall doesn't expect Mr. Jobs to return. Instead, Mr. Jobs's move is likely a test period to see how COO Tim Cook handles himself while managing the company's day-to-day operations.

"Obviously we are saddened by the news that Steve's medical issues are more complex than he previously thought. However, we do feel a 6-month medical leave of absence is the right thing for Apple and believe the company is in able hands under the leadership of COO Tim Cook," Mr. Marshall said. "It is our opinion that the next 6 months is a 'trial period' for Tim and if he does well, Steve will become a senior advisor to Apple and pass the CEO baton over to Tim."

Mr. Jobs announced in a letter on Wednesday that his health issues are "more complex" than he anticipated, so he is taking a six month leave of absence. During that window, COO Tim Cook will be handling day-to-day operations, but Mr. Jobs will still be involved in major company decisions.

Apple's stock dropped below US$80 Wednesday night after Mr. Jobs announced his leave of absence, creating what AmTech analyst Bryan Marshall called a "compelling valuation." He sees Apple's current stock price as too good to ignore, and is upgrading the company to "Buy."

Mr. Marshall is rating Apple as "Buy" with a target price at $100. Apple is currently trading at $81.27, down 4.06 (4.76%).