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Apple stock is in correction territory

2:08 PM, Oct 9, 2012   |    comments
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Matt Krantz, USA TODAY

2:59PM EST October 9. 2012 - Apple mania has gone the other way.

Despite being the center of investor attention and hype all year, investors are dumping shares of Apple (AAPL).

The stock is now down more than 10% from its 52-week high, placing it solidly in correction territory. After Monday's decline of $9.82, or 1.5%, to $638.17, it fell another 1% Tuesday before recouping its losses. Late in the trading day, bargain hunters had pushed it up 0.2%, on a day when most stocks were down.

The company has had a series of missteps that some critics say show its struggle to adapt after the death of charismatic co-founder Steve Jobs.

"The stock hits resistance every now and then," says Alex Gauna, analyst at JMP Securities. This time, though, "there are fundamental reasons for the stock hitting resistance."

The list of concerns is long. For example, the company's latest iPhone replaced Google's maps with an Apple version, which many users have complained about and the current CEO apologized for. Meanwhile, investors are concerned about supply disruptions with the phone, Gauna says. There has been labor unrest at the Chinese factory where the device is made.

The reversal of fortune for the stock comes at a time when investors' expectations for the company couldn't be higher. There's rampant speculation that the company is preparing to unveil a smaller tablet computer to compete with popular designs from other device manufacturers, like Korea's Samsung.

Yet, Apple will face even tougher competition as both Amazon and Samsung offer tablet computers at much lower price points, Gauna says.

Despite the stock selloff, Apple's finances couldn't be stronger. Thanks to its unparalleled pricing power, Apple made $40 billion in profit the past 12 months, up 55% from the previous 12 months.

And the company's market value of $589.7 billion still makes it the most valuable in the world. Despite the recent pullback, shares of Apple are up 55% this year.

Traditionally, selloffs have been huge opportunities for investors to jump in. Apple, for instance, missed earnings expectations for two recent quarters, but the stock marched higher. Now some investors wonder if the laws of economics will catch up with Apple. "I haven't jumped back on the bandwagon yet," Gauna says.

USA TODAY

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