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Apple shares down over last few days; time to sound the alarm?

The Wall Street Journal says Apple's shares are "showing signs of faltering," but is it really time to worry about the company's stock?

Apple's shares have been down over the last few days, prompting some to express concern over the company's financial performance.

The Wall Street Journal last night wrote a report on Apple's shares, saying that the iPhone maker's stock is "showing signs of faltering, threatening to drag much of the market down with it."

Apple's shares were down 4.1 percent yesterday, closing down to $580.13 from their open of $610.06. Over the last five days of trading, Apple's stock is down $53.55, or 8.45 percent. The company's market capitalization, which topped $600 billion earlier this month, has dropped to $540.9 billion.

Over the last four months alone, Apple's shares -- like any other company's stock -- have experienced some dips and gains; it's the nature of the stock market. That's precisely why examining shares over the short-term is not necessarily advisable and why long-term analysis gives a better idea of shareholder sentiment. Since January 1, Apple's shares are up 43 percent, and over the last year, its stock has risen 77 percent. And although there have been some dips here and there, the trend -- an important part of this -- has been up.

In pre-market trading today, Apple's shares are up $2.68, seeming to discount concerns that shareholders are fleeing the stock.

Most analysts are bullish on Apple's shares. Earlier this month, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said that he believes Apple's stock could hit $1,000 per share and reach a market cap of $1 trillion. Just a day earlier, Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White said that he too believes Apple's shares will rise to $1,000. Among 53 analysts following Apple, the average target price is $673.80 -- nearly $100 higher than its current price.

Still, there are some naysayers. Last week, BTIG Research analyst Walter Piecyk downgraded Apple's shares from Buy to Neutral, saying that competitive issues with carriers and the unlikelihood of Apple launching a "revolutionary" product this year might slow its stock's gains.

Looking ahead, Apple plans to announce its fiscal second quarter earnings next week. When that happens, expect the company's shares to react either positively or negatively, based on what the execs lay out.