Cramer: Why I'm Concerned About Apple

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NEW YORK ( RealMoney) --Sometimes you don't get to write everything or say everything you want on television, but I wanted to give you my entire piece on Apple ( AAPL) that some say is at the heart of the decline today.

I had to do a truncated No Huddle version because of the exigencies of the moment. I also want to point out that an outfit called Cleveland Research is cutting Apple numbers for precisely what one of the worry points is: the surfeit of tablets. It's a worrisome development given how it has trounced all other comers.

Of course, it is also important to point out that Thursday morning's action takes out key support levels for a stock that has historically been a total chart winner.

Not long ago, there was one stock out there that you could buy into every dip without fear and that was Apple. You never had to fret about all the minor little worries that so often crush other companies. Faith should never be part of the investing equation, but for years having faith in Apple under the leadership of Steve Jobs paid off and it paid off big time. But now?

Well, now I'm hearing about weak tablet sales, about iPhone 4S sales not up to snuff, along with worries about holiday sales for iPods. And I'm wondering, do we actually need to fret about the stock of Apple, the greatest wealth creator of our generation?

I mean, tablet weakness? Jeez! IPhone woes, huh? And iPods? Don't they just coin money on those things anyway? Talk about issues I never cared about when Steve Jobs was alive. I just didn't. I always knew that there would be something else in Apple's hopper, something so exciting, so intriguing that I could regard these niggling issues in only one way: they were always terrific buying opportunities ahead of the next big thing.

But these days, every nuance, every little bit of worry about Apple, as we heard today from a brokerage firm talking about lighter tablet sales, seeps into my ears and I actually listen and agonize over it. I don't want to. I want to be able to say that the plans put in place by Steve Jobs, perhaps America's greatest industrialist, are so amazing that you can back up the truck in every hiccup for years to come. I want to be able to say, who cares about a potential part ordering slowdown in the Apple food chain, an issue that at one point I would have just dismissed out of hand as impossible? Too much demand for Apple's products and not enough supply. That's always been the way with every new product Steve Jobs has introduced.

But I can't say those things. I can't dismiss these minute Apple data points as irrelevant anymore. These days, it would just be too glib.

In fact, today's Wall Street research concerns about iPad sales and a slowdown in the ordering of parts can't easily be dismissed at all. On Apple's last conference call we heard about how there could be a coming saturation in the tablet market. Of course, they didn't actually come out and use the word saturation. It was more subtle, a simple statement about supply no longer being constrained. We did hear another dreaded word, though, cannibalization. Not like the Donner Party, but like maybe iPad sales are starting to cannibalize other Apple offerings.

I certainly didn't want to hear that. Took note of it, filed it away. But I keep thinking about it now that the stock seems to have such a hard time breaking out from this level.

When you have a momentum stock and you hear that demand for an important product like the iPad is no longer well in excess of supply, you blanch, whatever blanching is. You sweat. I sweated on the conference call and I'm sweating now (more so than usual, in fact).

When you hear that it's possible the iPhone 4S may have a serious rival in the new Samsung Galaxy, you have to be nervous. Frankly, I hadn't counted on a competitive threat this season. I wasn't sweating, but I'm sweating now.

Unfortunately, following Steve Jobs' passing, Apple has become a highly-emotional, highly-charged stock to talk about. Any time I express reservations about it after a quarter that, frankly, just wasn't that strong, I am blasted by the faithful. I'm accosted on the street and in the virtual street of Twitter. I am a traitor. I am committing heresy. I am an apostate. Cramer, I thought you said Apple was going to the moon, and so on.

I say, come on. My job is to find stocks that I think will go up and tell you I like them, to find stocks that I think will go down and tell you to avoid them and to teach you how to become a better investor. Right now Apple is still very much in the going-higher camp. I think it can move up over time. But it is no longer at the top of that cohort.

Look, Apple was never a worry-free stock. Yet with Steve Jobs, you couldn't help but feel more secure about the future whenever the stock got hit. I have come out here many times in the last seven years to tell you that I dismiss the worries over antennae failing or the iPad being useless with a name that sounds like a feminine hygiene product or the iPhone 4S not being new enough. Just buy, buy, buy every time.

Now, all I'm saying is let's not be dismissive of concerns about Apple and let's not be dismissive of those who fret about it. Let's just accept the fact that Apple is no longer immune to short-term worry, because we know that Jobs will find a way to make it all work out in the end.

Apple, the stock, is like Jobs, the man. They are both, in the end, mortal.

And with that realization, we have to also admit that not every dip is a buy and the stock is no longer immune to larger issues of consumer strength and global weakness, even as it's obviously still a heck of a lot better than the vast majority of other stocks out there.

The bottom line: Apple no longer automatically gets the benefit of the doubt. That doesn't make Apple a Sell, not even close. Just recognize that complacency should never be a strategy when it comes to stocks, even the great stock that is Apple, and that there may come a time where it should not be bought until it comes down appreciably from where it sits right now.

Action Alerts PLUS, which Cramer co-manages as a charitable trust, is long AAPL.

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