Today marks the one-year anniversary of Tim Cook officially taking over the reigns at Apple (AAPL) from Steve Jobs. While Cook had already been serving as acting CEO for several months prior during Jobs' leave of absence due to health issues. While his abilities to lead from an operational standpoint were praised, many questioned whether Cook would be able to continue the innovative product development that Apple was known for. In a way, these questions still exist given that many of Apple's current successful products are still just improvements based on those introduced during the Jobs era. The real answer will come when Apple is ready to launch it's next major product and whether
Under Cook's tenure, the once seemingly invincible Apple showed several signs of uncharacteristic vulnerability--most notably the Foxconn controversy and the recent earnings miss, which was the first since 2004 for Apple. However, neither seem to be long-term issues for the company.
Still, based on the company's stock performance over the last year, Cook has the confidence of investors. And why not? The company continues to break records on iPhone and iPad sales, and consumers are as hungry as ever for the latest versions of these flagship products to hit the market. Apple also surpassed Exxon Mobil (XOM) as the most valuable company in the U.S. by market cap under Cook's first year. The company's stock continues to rise, hitting new all-time highs and has gained about 80 percent over the last year. Also, let's not forget the annual 1.7 percent dividend the company began distributing this year either.
By all accounts, Cook has done an admirable job filling in the shoes left behind by Jobs. But with his first year behind him, the pressure only increases on his followup performance. Apple still needs to deliver on new innovative and disruptive products that it has been historically known for, and the competition in both the smartphone and tablet space continues to intensify. But with a loyal customer base, a huge war chest of cash, several highly anticipated launches in the pipeline, and an unrivaled reputation of innovation and quality, Cook certainly has a lot to work with. And given his performance in year one, there's little reason to doubt that he will deliver.
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