Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) remains the most talked-about stock here at Seeking Alpha, by far.
And why not? No other issue, in the history of the planet, has done as much for small investors. Anyone who bought Apple shares at any point in Steve Jobs' second tenure made a lot of money.
But Elvis has left the building. And the mistakes of his successor, Tim Cook, are starting to pile up:
- Apple ads no longer stand out. Some are actually cringeworthy, as Ars Technica notes, especially those starring an Apple "Genius" who looks and acts like a washout from Best Buy's (NYSE:BBY) "Geek Squad."
- Speaking of Geniuses, their discipline seems to be breaking down. Gizmodo reported, and 9to5 Mac confirmed, that Apple's featured store in Dallas is having some big problems and those seem to be spreading. Former Apple Store head Ron Johnson has also left the building, for J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP), and his successor may not be as insanely great.
- Apple's historic suit against Samsung is winding down and after the jury in that case completes its long form trial result, Apple will have fired its last, best legal gun, win or lose. And probably draw.
- Just as Apple is doubling-down on patents, it's running into increasing pushback from analysts like the Harvard Business Review's James Allworth who argue that its best protection lies in faster innovation, not fancy lawyer talk.
- Apple isn't the only company with patents, nor is it the only one that can file lawsuits based on those patents. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) can do it, too, because new patents are always being granted.
Right now, Apple stock is being held up by past results and anticipation of the "iPhone 5" -- or whatever they choose to call it. (The 4S was supposed to be the 5, too.) Apple still has enormous margins on its phones and tablets.
But competition is increasing. Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows 8 is coming, and even its failure will likely take some corporate share away. Samsung isn't going away, and Google and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) are going to fill millions of stockings with low-priced kit this Christmas. Apple's ability to maintain premium prices is going to be challenged.
And, as noted before, Elvis has left the building.
In technology, nothing succeeds forever. Technology is always evolving, and companies that rest on their past glories die. Even for big companies, like Silicon Graphics, Digital Equipment, and Wang Labs, size is no protection. You have to be at the leading edge, or you're nowhere.
So, is it time to take some Apple profits off the table?