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Apple Reports Record Profits in 4th Quarter

Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs holds the new 'iPad' during the launch of Apple's new tablet computing device in San Francisco, California
Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs holds the new 'iPad' during the launch of Apple's new tablet computing device in San Francisco, California

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Shares of technology giant Apple are set to rebound after the company announced better than expected quarterly profits.  The company's stock plunged as much as 10 percent in Europe Monday after Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs announced he was taking another medical leave.

Jobs, who is 55, suffers from pancreatic cancer, and received a liver transplant in 2009.  While many remain concerned about Apple's future without its iconic leader, analysts say the short-term outlook for Apple remains strong. 

Some say Apple just wouldn't be Apple without Steve Jobs.

So it came as no surprise that Apple shares plunged Monday - after the man who built the first Apple computers in his garage in 1976 , and later - introduced the world to the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad - suddenly announced his second medical leave in two years.

New York Times technology writer Nick Bilton says the news caught many by surprise. "I think this news came out of nowhere, nobody knows what's going on or how long he's going to be gone for. I think it's a really big shock," he said.

Known for his secrecy, Jobs is a survivor of pancreatic cancer - receiving a liver transplant in 2009 after initially claiming his medical problems were the result of a hormone imbalance.  

Despite the initial hit on Monday, which saw the company lose as much as $20 billion in market value - analysts say Apple shares are set to rebound after better than expected earnings.

Apple reported a blockbuster quarter late Tuesday - with revenues up 71 percent. That means holiday shoppers snapped up more iPhones and iPads than analysts expected.  

But the Wall Street Journal's Kara Swisher questions the company's long-term future without its charismatic founder. "There is no replacement for Steve Jobs.  It's hard to find a successor to someone like him," she said.

Though Apple posted record net profits and revenue of nearly $27 billion in the last quarter, German bank analyst Oliver Roth says the company's future performance remains closely tied to its CEO. "Steve Jobs is the heart and brain of Apple and as long as nobody knows how long he will be away, the speculation in Apple will go on and that will put pressure on the stock price," he said.

Based on the latest earnings, analysts say Apple is on track to sell more than 17 million iPods, 15 million iPhones and more than 6 million iPads in 2011 - with or without Steve Jobs.

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