* 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 comment, byline; updates shares)
By Gabriel Madway
SAN FRANCISCO, June 29 (Reuters) - Apple Inc (AAPL.O) Chief Executive Steve Jobs is back at work following a near 6-month medical leave, though 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.”
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.
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 like 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.”
Shares of Apple were roughly flat at $141.92 on Nasdaq at mid-afternoon. 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 absence.
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.
Jobs was treated for a rare form of pancreatic cancer in 2004. His gaunt appearance at an Apple event last summer spurred worries that the cancer had returned.
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. [ID:nN2382309] (Reporting by Gabriel Madway, editing by Tiffany Wu, Derek Caney and Richard Chang)