2012 has been a tumultuous year for both Apple (AAPL) and its investors. The stock, once a darling of Wall Street, has fallen precipitously from its intraday high of $705.07 on Sept. 21; shares are down nearly 23% in three months (the stock is up 26.7% YTD).
The maker of the iPhone and iPad has experienced both highs and lows this year.
Apple's 2012 highlights include:
- iPhone 5 Debut: Apple debuted its highly anticipated and widely speculated iPhone 5 to much fanfare. The tech giant sold a record-breaking 5 million iPhone 5 devices in its September opening weekend, with demand exceeding the company’s initial supply. According to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, Apple now holds 53.3% of the U.S. smartphone market – the first time Apple has surpassed the 50% mark. Apple’s dominance with smartphone users in the U.S. can largely be attributed to sales of the iPhone 5.
- Major Patent Win: Apple also decisively won its patent infringement suit against Korean competitor Samsung this summer. The nine-member jury ruled that Samsung copied the look and feel of its iPhone and awarded Apple more than $1 billion in damages.
- iPad Mini: This fall Apple unveiled the iPad mini, the smaller and less expensive alternative to its widely popular iPad tablets.
Apple's 2012 lowlights include:
- Maps Flap: Apple's Maps mobile app, designed to replace the popular Google Maps tool, was riddled with flaws and did not work correctly, forcing a rare public apology from CEO Tim Cook. Several senior executives including longtime iPhone and iPad software chief Scott Forstall, retail head John Browett and mapping app executive Richard Williamson were fired this year. Apple also missed its third-quarter and fourth-quarter profit forecasts, shocking analysts and investors and causing a sell-off in the stock. Prior to the third-quarter, Apple had beaten Wall Street estimates in 17 out of its last 18 quarters.
- Sweatshop in China: Foxconn, the Chinese manufacturer of the iPhone and iPad, continued to make news this year for its subpar and extreme working conditions. It was also blamed for delays of iPhone 5 shipments."The iPhone 5 is the most difficult device that Foxconn has ever assembled," according to a Foxconn official. "To make it light and thin, the design is very complicated. It takes time to learn how to make this new device. Practice makes perfect. Our productivity has been improving day by day."
Tech journalist and founder of the Techonomy Conference David Kirkpatrick says concerns over Apple’s future are overblown. He believes Tim Cook is a "brilliant" leader and the tech juggernaut has "a lot of tricks up its sleeve" in the coming year.
“I don’t think there’s any fundamental problem with Apple,” Kirkpatrick tells The Daily Ticker. “In fact, Apple’s P/E is still ridiculously low. It’s still by the far the world’s most popular consumer electronics company. I would be a buyer of the stock.”
Kirkpatrick expects sales of the iPhone, iPad and iPad mini will continue to surprise to the upside next year but cautions that Apple’s margins for these products will fall as the consumer electronics market becomes tighter. The longtime Apple watcher also predicts 2013 will be the year of the Apple TV, which Kirkpatrick describes as a “real, full-fledged screen TV” that’s built to connect to the Internet.
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