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Sell Apple: Longs Could Be in For a Fall

Stocks in this article: AAPL

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The recent rise in Apple's (AAPL) stock price could end up burning longs who do not take profits. While I certainly could be reading it wrong, the writing is most definitely on the wall.

Before you tell me I hate Apple, please note that I wrote this article on the new MacBook with a Retina display I received Monday. With the exception of the Internal Revenue Service, you typically do not give such a large sum of money to an organization you dislike.

I love Apple. Because of this admiration it pains me to see the company veer from the course Steve Jobs set for it. It hurts even more to watch so many people -- shareholders, the media, analysts, fanboys and fangirls -- refuse to connect the now-painfully obvious dots.

A Sampling of the Writing on the Wall

Shortly after Tim Cook took over for Jobs, he caved to shareholder pressure and decided to institute a dividend and buyback. In the rearview mirror of history, that will go down as the symbolic beginning of the end.

Now, as Apple begins paying that dividend, several things are taking place that could spell trouble.

The dividend and buyback foreshadowed what we're seeing more and more of each day. The gap between Apple and everybody else appears to be closing. Micro and macro factors that once impacted everybody except Apple now cause Apple to make adjustments we never would have seen in the Steve Jobs era.

The most obvious example that the world continues to ignore is the forthcoming mini iPad. Bulls spin it as Apple taking control of yet another market. While that may very well happen, it's a short-term grab of market share that sets off flares of long-term concern.

When Apple no longer operates in a class of its own, it begins to cede control and chip away at its own greatness. As I have argued for months, it's on the road to becoming just another very good company.

The latest missteps from Tim Cook do nothing but accelerate the trend and send signals that Apple is concerned about the current quarter.

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