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Apple investors shrug at thinner iPad Air, beefed up iMac

Shares in Apple briefly flipped positive early in the company's presentation but were largely stuck in negative territory after the event, down about 1 percentage point at $96.58.

Apple investors yawned at the company's event unveiling a thinner iPad Air tablet and a new iMac computer. Tim Stevens/CNET

As Apple touted how its new iPad Air tablets were so thin and light, the company's event had investor interest to match.

After an event Thursday for the unveiling of the iPad Air 2 and a new iMac with Retina display , shares were down about 1 percentage point at $96.58. Though they flitted briefly out of the red near the beginning of the presentation, the stock was trading in a fairly narrow range, roughly near where it had been before the show began.

Thursday's event, held at Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., is the second product launch for Apple in as many months, more low-key and smaller than September's glitzy unveiling of two larger iPhones and the Apple Watch .

The stock hit its high point this year on September 2 amid anticipation of new product launches. Apple shares generally had slid from their earlier highs in 2012 on worries that Apple CEO Tim Cook wouldn't be as successful as co-founder Steve Jobs at developing new blockbuster devices.

Overall, Apple stock has swung back from the company's near brush with declaring bankruptcy prior to Jobs' return in 1997 to its status now as the most valuable company in the US. Its market capitalization of more than $577 billion tops Exxon Mobil, Microsoft and Google.

Apple has recently taken steps to return more cash to shareholders. In June, the company gave investors six additional shares of stock for every Apple share they already owned.The split lowered the per-share price of Apple's stock significantly, which made it more accessible. When the split went into effect in June, shares were trading at about $93.

Under the leadership of Cook, Apple started returning some of its massive cash hoard to investors, though activist shareholders such as billionaire Carl Icahn have asked for more. Apple increased its dividend earlier this year and kicked off share repurchases, along with the stock split. The company at that time boosted the amount of cash that it's returning to shareholders by about $30 billion to more than $130 billion.

In Apple's last fiscal year, ended September 28, 2013, the company generated $170.91 billion in sales and $37.04 billion in profits.

The iPhone remains the fuel of Apple's money-making machine -- contributing to more than half of its sales -- but the company is eager to bolster its other businesses. Front and center is the iPad, which is the company's second-biggest revenue generator at about 15 percent to 20 percent of revenue, but the device hasn't been selling as well as it used to. The iPad's declining shipments raise the question of whether a temporary hiccup or a troubling trend is to blame.

The Mac computer business also remains important to Apple, especially as the company makes its various devices work better together. While Apple has spoken against hybrid devices that switch between computers and tablets, its new computer operating system, OS X Yosemite , includes features that allow users to "hand off" tasks. That includes letting users start a task -- such as writing an email or composing a text -- on an iPhone and then finish it on an iPad or Mac.