With all the news and volatility surrounding Yahoo! (YHOO) after its chief executive stepped down, it's worth taking a look at other companies that could take a beating if their CEOs were to depart.

These are great companies to keep track of, because each is good enough to do well even without its high-profile leader. But even so, these stocks would likely dip if their CEOs ever left, creating perfect buying opportunities. In fact, most of these stocks represent great investments right now because management is so great. A list of 20 such

stocks that will be badly hurt without their CEOs or founders

can be found at Stockpickr.com.

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

was incorporated in 1977 by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniac and went public in 1980.

Jobs has had a tumultuous career with Apple, getting stripped of his management duties and shortly thereafter resigning in 1985. A dozen years later, in 1997, Gil Amelio was removed as CEO by the board of directors after the computer maker's stock reached one of its lowest prices in a decade, and Jobs was brought back as CEO.

Since that time, the stock has climbed from a split-adjusted price of $3.42 to $113.62, an average annualized increase of 43%. Without Steve Jobs, a return like this probably would be unsustainable. However, the company would survive. Jobs is a great manager and great hirer. His team is in place to make many future generations of iPods.

To watch Gregg Greenberg's video take on this column, click here.

Legendary investors

Paul Tudor Jones

and

George Soros

, who both own the stock, would likely agree. Other favorites of Soros include

Halliburton

(HAL) - Get Report

and

Qualcomm

(QCOM) - Get Report

.

Next up is

Berkshire Hathaway

(BRK.A) - Get Report

, perhaps one of the most famous of these CEO-reliant situations, as it's run by one of the greatest investors ever,

Warren Buffett

. Berkshire is known for having the highest-priced shares and for being clearly founder-driven. It's constantly surrounded by speculation concerning the effect that Buffett's eventual retirement will have on the stock.

Buffett took control of Berkshire Hathaway in 1965, and since 1970 the stock has gone from $8,200 to $109,320, an average annual increase of 16%. Buffett has used the company as somewhat of a combination of a conglomerate and hedge fund.

It will be a major loss to the company when Buffett is gone. However, the question in this situation is whether the stock will stabilize and continue to move up. There are several "mini Berkshire Hathaways," including

Markel

and

Leucadia

, whose leaders could be considered when a new leader is needed to succeed the Oracle of Omaha.

Then of course there's

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

. Bill Gates, the wealthiest man in the world, is in a transition period with the software company he founded, moving to a part-time position last June and planning to go into philanthropy full time in July of 2008.

Since Microsoft went public, the stock has surged from a split-adjusted price of 8 cents to $21.80 on June 16, 2006, when he took a less-active position with his company. This is an average return of roughly 27.5% per year.

Microsoft is a holding of one of my favorite investors, John Buckingham from the

Al Frank Fund

. Buckingham is a well-known value investor who has a good eye for finding quality cheap stocks, as evidenced by his 16% annual returns since his fund's inception in 1998.

Clearly, he is not that concerned with Gates' role in the company, as Microsoft is not as tied to its chief figure as some of the other companies mentioned here. Buckingham is also a believer in

Transocean

(RIG) - Get Report

and

Home Depot

(HD) - Get Report

.

These are just a few of the 20 names on the list of

stocks that will be hurt badly without their CEOs or founders

, so be sure to check out the entire portfolio on Stockpickr.com.

At the time of publication, Altucher and/or his fund had no positions in stocks mentioned, although positions may change at any time.

James Altucher is president of Stockpickr LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of TheStreet.com and part of its network of Web properties, and a managing partner at Formula Capital, an alternative asset management firm that runs several quantitative-based hedge funds as well as a fund of hedge funds. He is also the author of

Trade Like a Hedge Fund

and

Trade Like Warren Buffett

. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Altucher appreciates your feedback;

click here

to send him an email.

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