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Apple: Fine Without Steve Jobs? Think Different

That said, I maintain my near-term cautious and long-term bearish stance.

Near-term: Apple must absolutely knock the snot out of the baseball when it reports its October-November-December results in January 2013. Before that, we should prepare for a relatively underwhelming quarter between last month's miss and the much-anticipated holiday report.

Whether this in-between report underwhelms or not really doesn't matter, it's all about the holiday quarter. I've never seen quite so much hype ahead of a product launch. It's off the charts. And this puts Apple in a somewhat scary position. When everybody in the world thinks a quarter will produce beyond smashing results, longs, if nothing else, should pause.

Long term: I prefer to consider the bigger picture because, quite frankly, it's easier to assess. It's also much more interesting. Amid the euphoria of the present multi-year run and unprecedented expectations, AAPL bulls refuse to consider factors that can influence and should tip us off about that long-term picture.

In previous articles, I outline this writing on the long-term wall. (Most recently, see Tim Cook Has No Idea How to Move Forward With Apple TV, but also see more bullish takes, such as Microsoft Can Beat RIM, but Stands No Chance Against Apple).

And, now, add the marketing campaign embarrassment to the growing list of stumbles that might not impact Apple today, but foreshadow a potential fall from greatness over the long term.

With the stock approaching $700, why does any of this matter?

Flash back to the 1980s coke freak desperately searching for an after party.

Emotion has a fascinating way of working itself into stock investing. You're long AAPL. It's kicking rear and taking names. For perfectly understandable reasons, you're passionate about the position. The best mistake you can make is to detach yourself from the hysteria and take some profits.

Because, if my long-term bearish outlook pans out and the stock follows, more than a few longs will dig their respective heels in. They will check their cost bases and claim they'll sell if AAPL falls (insert arbitrary percentage here).

However, as it falls those profits you thought you were about to bank erode. You hold out for a rebound to recover a few bucks. The stock drops more. Before you know it, your profit pales in comparison to what it once was, you're sitting at breakeven or, worse, you're holding an on-paper loss.

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