* Steve Jobs returns to work after near 6-month leave
* At Apple a few days a week, working from home otherwise
* Apple shares flat on Nasdaq
(Adds analyst comments; updates shares)
By Gabriel Madway
SAN FRANCISCO, June 29 Apple Inc (AAPL.O) Chief
Executive Steve Jobs is back at work following a near 6-month
medical leave, although he will work at least initially from
home for a few days a week, the company said on Monday.
The official word of his return followed months of
speculation about the health of Jobs, a pancreatic cancer
survivor and his future with the company he co-founded more
than 30 years ago.
Jobs, 54, underwent a liver transplant in Memphis,
Tennessee, while on leave. He has remained involved in
strategic decisions at Apple while away, according to the
company and he has been seen in recent weeks at Apple's
headquarters in Cupertino, California.
"Steve is back to work," a company spokesman said. "He's
currently at Apple a few days a week and working from home the
remaining days. We are very glad to have him back."
Collins Stewart analyst Ashok Kumar said investors will be
reassured that Jobs is back at the helm of the company he
helped resuscitate over the past decade, with category-defining
products such as the iPod and, more recently, the iPhone.
Kumar noted that some investors had feared Jobs would never
return. "In many ways he's irreplaceable," he said. "Having him
back brings the halo back to the company."
Apple shares were flat in late trading on the Nasdaq. The
stock used to sink and surge with every twist in Jobs' health,
but has proved to be less volatile of late as investors got
used to the idea of other executives running the company in his
STOCK LESS VOLATILE
Oppenheimer & Co analyst Yair Reiner said that, given the
lack of information about Apple's CEO over the past six months,
investors were forced to remove him from the equation.
"It really wasn't possible for someone to make an
investment decision in Apple under the assumption that Steve
Jobs was going to come back," Reiner said.
Jobs was treated for a rare form of pancreatic cancer in
2004. His gaunt appearance at an Apple event last summer
spurred worries the cancer had returned.
In January, after initially blaming his noticeable weight
loss on a hormone imbalance, Jobs announced he was taking
medical leave until the end of June, saying his health-related
issues were "more complex" than originally thought.
While Jobs was on leave, Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook
handled Apple's day-to-day operations. Some analysts think Jobs
may transition into an advisory role, focusing on products and
strategy and Cook would formally become CEO.
The hospital in Memphis that performed Jobs' liver
transplant said he "is now recovering well and has an excellent
prognosis," but has not provided further details.
Pacific Crest Securities analyst Andy Hargreaves said
questions remain and added that Apple has not shown itself very
forthcoming on the subject of Jobs' health.
"The question is whether or not he's going to be there for
the next several years and I don't think they've added any
clarity on that," he added.
(Reporting by Gabriel Madway, editing by Richard Chang and