Updated from 9:37 a.m. EST

Do you own the stock of a public corporation because of what the company does or because of the person at the top?

Perhaps you look at Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ), and think, "This company makes things that are in my medicine cabinet, but that's neither here nor there. I really trust William Weldon."

Maybe you see an article on Novartis ( NVS) and say to yourself, "The company's drugs might or might not be successful. I don't care that much. What matters is Daniel Vasella."

Or, when you think about Tootsie Roll ( TR), you say, "I'm not sure people will be buying candy in the coming months, but that's irrelevant. Melvin Gordon has my admiration."

Is this how you make most of your investing decisions? Probably not. For most investors, the choice to buy shares rests on the belief that a company, because of its products or services, is poised to be profitable, have growing revenue and see its stock price appreciate.

That should be no less true for Apple ( APPL) than it is for 3M ( MMM) or Union Pacific ( UNP) or Arctic Cat ( ACAT).

But we know that isn't the case. What's different among all the aforementioned companies is that one of them has a celebrity CEO, a man who is so closely identified with the success of the business that many investors cannot fathom the idea of the operation going on without him. Of course, that person in this case is Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, the maker of the iPhone, the iPod and the iMac.


Can Apple thrive without Steve Jobs?

The company will remain successful either way
If he doesn't return from leave, the company will suffer
What Apple needs now is a clear succession plan

On Wednesday, Jobs said he would take a medical leave from the company, putting Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook in charge. That announcement sent shares of Apple sharply lower, as traders worried that Jobs, who had pancreatic cancer earlier this decade, might be more sick than he has been letting on.

Without question, any investor wants competent and creative management running the company with which they're sharing their hard-earned dollars. What should be questioned, however, is whether you want to tie up your funds with a company based almost entirely on who's in charge.

If you're the kind of person who doesn't think anyone could successfully steer your favorite company as well as whoever currently is, you might reconsider where you're parking your cash.

People die every day, sometimes unexpectedly. Sometimes, these people are CEOs, CFOs or founders.

Whether Jobs should have or even could have been more forthcoming about his health isn't the point here. Maybe he really did give shareholders all the information he had as soon as had it. Then again, maybe he didn't. The debate there isn't going to end. What should end is this -- the baseless notion that Apple isn't going to be capable of continuing without Jobs.

Yes he's a strong personality, yes he's one of the founders, and yes he does matter. But eventually, every long-lasting successful company has to deal with a management transition, and Apple will, too. Maybe that will be this year, maybe it will be in 2019. For now, let's just not write any obituaries, either for Jobs or for Apple.

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