I remember vividly where I was when the first $1,000 price target appeared. I shouted an expletive and then asked my wife whether she thought it was possible Apple shares could go that high.
Then a week later, there were two more price targets: one at $1,001 and another at $1,111. And do not forget $1,650 price target from Eric Jackson last September, noted here by CNBC.
It became a game -- one reminiscent of The Price Is Right. Unfortunately, it was also reminiscent of the tech bubble days when valuation was only a matter of how high one could dream. As with the dot-com era, however, Apple investors' dreams became a nightmare.
Shortly after Apple hit its all-time high of $705, the wheels fell off, the music stopped, and [insert your favorite analogy here]. The Street was unprepared. Today, analysts are racing to see who can cut Apple's estimates lower and faster. Unfortunately, Apple keeps helping these analysts along the way. There have been too many apologies from the company and not enough innovation. Rocco Pendola recently asked whether Tim Cook is really the right person to lead Apple out of this lull. There was a point when this would have been a ridiculous suggestion. But today, Pendola raises an interesting question. And it's one that Apple's board should really consider.
Now, before more hate mail starts pouring in, understand that I'm a long-term holder of Apple, and have been for a number of years. However, though, it's no longer a debate about whether Apple is flawless. A company can't keep saying "I'm sorry" to the world and be considered unblemished. What was once just "cracks in the armor" are now becoming glaring holes. And I'm becoming less patient with each misstep. There was the subpar maps program after management decided it was time to ditch Google (GOOG) Maps. Then there has been a slew of underwhelming reviews of new products, including the iPhone 5. Was it really that different from the iPhone 4S? Not to mention issues with supply chains and inventory management. And with profitability and unit sales on the decline, what's left to inspire investors to believe?
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