Lessons For Investors From Steve Jobs’ Resignation

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Apple chief executive Steve Jobs unveils the iPhone at the Macworld Conference in January, 2007 in San Francisco. (Photo credit: TONY AVELAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs unveils the iPhone at the Macworld Conference in January, 2007 in San Francisco. (Photo credit: TONY AVELAR/AFP/Getty Images)

By Jill Schlesinger, CBS MoneyWatch

CUPERTINO (CBS MoneyWatch) — Despite his medical history, investors appeared to be taken off-guard by when Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs resigned as chief executive on Wednesday and the Board of Directors named Tim Cook, previously Apple’s Chief Operating Officer, as the company’s new CEO.

Jobs has been battling pancreatic cancer since 2004 and in April 2009, underwent liver transplant surgery. In January he took an indefinite medical leave from Apple and handed over day-to-day responsibility to Cook.

In after-hours trading on Wednesday the stock dropped over 5 percent, and then was down another one percent in Thursday’s trading, which brings up some investor lessons that bear repeating:

1. Avoid individual stocks: Yes, Apple has been a super performer, up a gazillion percent in the second Jobs era, but assuming that you are a diversified stock investor (you are, right?), chances are you don’t have all of your money in Apple. Has your total portfolio beaten its relevant index? If you are anything like 70 percent of active managers, the answer is no.

2. Beware the superstar CEO: OK, I’ll concede that many of you will ignore my number one lesson and pull a Warren Buffett and “buy what you know.” Of course, I’m not exactly sure why you think you should buy the stock simply because you really, really like your iPhone, but I know there are plenty of you Apple-lovers out there who have done just that. As ZDNet’s Larry Dignan pointed out, the Apple succession plan is now front and center. Considering that Jobs really does embody Apple’s brand, many shareholders have worried that Tim Cook, who will finally get the nod as CEO, may not be able to full Jobs’ shoes. I’m not so sure. Cook has been in the role previously and is ready for his close-up.

3. Leadership Matters: This may seem contrary to the CEO superstar advice, but it’s just the other side of the coin. While he oversees a huge company, comprised of thousands of talented employees, Jobs has infused the company with his creative imprint. Will the company thrive to the extent that it has with different leadership? The answer remains to be seen.

4. Don’t Buy or Sell on the News: When Jobs took a leave in January, shares traded down but then recovered. If you had executed a trade on the news, you have violated a rule that should keep you out of panic buying or selling: Don’t make a decision without doing your homework. Sure, you might get lucky, but chances are, you may get caught in a downward spiral. Remember those people who rushed in to buy BP during the oil spill, only to see the stock sink further. Conversely, if you own the stock and have good reasons to continue owning it, don’t get spooked into selling.

>> Related Photo Gallery: Steve Jobs Through The Years

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All rights reserved.)

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