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Apple CEO search narrows

As Apple Computer sorts through its list of potential candidates for its chief executive slot, a short list has developed, according to a published report today.

As Apple Computer (AAPL) sorts through its list of potential candidates for its chief executive slot, a short list has developed, according to a published report today.

Joe Costello, chief executive of Cadence Design (CDN); Ed Zander, head of the hardware unit for Sun Microsystems (SUNW); Samuel Palmisano, head of PC operations for IBM (IBM); and David Dorman, an executive vice president at SBC Communications (SBC) were among the list of names on Apple's short list, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal today.

The publication, however, noted that a dozen candidates remain under consideration and that the board's search committee was scheduled to begin interviewing about a half a dozen candidates last week. It also reported that interim chief executive Steve Jobs may be changing his focus on the type of executive who should lead the company from preferring someone with a strong sales and marketing background to preferring someone with heavy operational experience.

In light of Costello and Zander making the short list, shares of Cadence and Sun Microsystems were down slightly in trading today. Cadence shares dipped as low as 2.3 percent in early trading, before closing at 52-5/8, down 1/2 from yesterday. Sun Microsystems shares fell to 48-3/8, down 5/8 over yesterday.

Mike Sottak, a spokesman for Cadence, said the company has no comment on the prospects of Costello taking a job at Apple.

He noted that Costello has been the only president at Cadence since it was formed via a merger in 1988. Costello was president at SDA Systems, one of the companies that created Cadence.

"There has been no effort to groom an heir apparent for Joe," said Sottak. "And there is no handwriting on the wall."

Despite today's slight dip, Cadence stock is currently trading near its 52-week high and has been building itself up in the past year through a number of acquisitions.

Executives from Sun, SBC, and IBM were not available for comment.

Apple is expecting to name a CEO by the end of the year. The company reduced its expectations of naming a new top dog by fall following the ouster of former CEO Gilbert Amelio last July. The company named Jobs, who repeatedly has turned down the CEO and chairman position, interim CEO earlier this month.

Heidrick & Struggles, an executive search firm, was hired in July to head the search. And a host of names of potentially viable candidates quickly surfaced from industry-watchers.

In a NEWS.COM interview, Claude Johnston, a partner at executive search firm Pearl Meyer & Partners, suggested that IBM's Palmisano would land the job.