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Apple stock is down ... again

January 4, 2013: 12:37 PM ET
Consumers may still line up outside Apple stores. But investors haven't been lining up to buy the stock lately.

Consumers may still line up outside Apple stores. But investors haven't been lining up to buy the stock lately.

Apple rallied along with the rest of the market on Wednesday on fiscal cliff euphoria. The stock soared more than 3%. But iBears seem to have returned with a vengeance.

Shares of Apple (AAPL) were down nearly 2% Friday. And that follows a more than 1% drop on Thursday.

Apple's big slide began last September following the release of the iPhone 5. The stock is down almost 25% from its all-time high.

One popular theory to explain the stock's slump at the end of 2012 was that investors were simply pulling back on their positions for tax-related purposes.

But now that the calendar reads 2013 and Congress has solved most of the tax issues related to the fiscal cliff, that thesis no longer makes sense. Traders on StockTwits have been discussing the pros and cons of Apple for weeks now and the debate continued on Friday.

this ain't tax selling! $AAPL

It's nice to see $GOOG diverge from $AAPL. Holding above $730 would be good for longs in that name.

Apple and Google are clearly the Coke and Pepsi of tech right now. So it is interesting that Google (GOOG) is gaining momentum at a time when Apple is slipping. I still think both stocks are attractive though and would make sense in any long-term investor's portfolio.

Still, strength in Google is not enough of a reason to justify the drop in Apple. Some traders noted a bearish report about iPhone and iPad sales from the Japanese analysts at Deutsche Bank as a possible reason the stock was down Friday. But these traders felt the sell-off was an overreaction.

$AAPL It's crazy that a report out from Japanese sell-side analysts can move the stock price of the largest company in the world. Weak.

Interesting how badly $AAPL is being sold on a stupid $DB report. I think it's a shift into higher-beta tech names.

It remains to be seen just how "stupid" or "crazy" the report may be. It is fair to wonder if Apple is losing its edge a bit in terms of product innovation given that some critics feel the iPhone 5 is merely a bigger iPhone 4S with a bad maps app and the iPad Mini is simply that, a miniature iPad.

This may seem like a long shot, but Apple could even face tougher competition in smartphones from Nokia (NOK) and Research in Motion (RIMM). Nokia's Lumia phones -- which run on Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows Phone operating system, have gotten favorable reviews. And there are growing hopes that RIMM might turn its fortunes around with its oft-delayed BlackBerry 10, which finally launches on January 30.

That's why some investors are waiting for Apple to roll out a truly new product line, such as a long-rumored television or streaming radio service.

Related: 5 new Apple products coming this year

Still, there are Apple enthusiasts who believe the stock will make a big comeback. With earnings due out later in January, the naysayers could be proven wrong if Apple beats estimates by a wide margin and/or issues strong guidance for the next quarter.

Rational=Fundamentals, and no one, no one,has made a good fundamental case against$AAPL

Good point. Apple's sales and earnings are expected to continue to growing at a solid clip.  It should keep generating huge chunks of cash. And it still trades at a reasonable valuation. So it seems premature to declare that Apple's best days are behind it just yet.

Finally, it's time for Reader Comment of the Week. My favorite story of this New Year-shortened week was definitely Spam maker Hormel (HRL) buying Skippy from Unilever (UN) (UL). But in other food news, I also noted that Dole (DOLE) got crushed on a weak outlook for its fresh fruit. Fellow CNNMoney assistant managing editor Mark Meinero unearthed this gem of a sandwich that marries all three of those foods.

Tumblr @tumblr · Follow

Yum! You just know that Elvis is sitting on a beach in Maui eating one of these right now.

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Paul Lamonica
Paul R. La Monica
Assistant Managing Editor, CNNMoney

Paul R. La Monica is an assistant managing editor at CNNMoney. He is the author of the site's daily column, The Buzz, and also tweets throughout the day about the markets and economy @LaMonicaBuzz. La Monica also oversees the site's economic, markets and technology coverage.

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