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Apple stock slouches toward $500, near February lows

Apple's stock continues its recent declines, dropping nearly 4 percent in a day, and reaching prices around which it hovered in mid-February.

James Martin/CNET

Even with Apple's top product arriving in more stores around the world, and its last products of the year shipping out, Wall Street's not so hot on the company today.

Shares of Apple closed at $509.79, down $19.90, or 3.76 percent, on Friday. That's near where the stock was trading in February, ahead of the journey that would take it beyond its high of $702 in September.

Of course everyone's looking for explanations behind the slump, a behavior that's become regular in the nearly three month span since the iPhone 5 went on sale. During that time, shares of Apple's stock have dropped more than 24 percent, including a 10 percent slip just last week.

Some of the reasons include:

  • Shareholders selling off their stock to avoid potential extra taxes next year given the "fiscal cliff"
  • A lack of huge lines for the iPhone 5 in China, where it went on sale today
  • Reports of decreased marginson Apple's products, leading to less profit
  • Less demand for certain parts and components, suggesting a sales slowdown

Earlier today UBS analyst Steven Milunovich made big cuts to the firm's forecast on Apple's device sales and stock target price. In a note to investors, Milunovich trimmed iPad estimates by 2 million units in the March, June, and September 2013 quarters, as well as the firm's stock target price, to $700, from $780.

In a note this morning, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster offered a contrarian view, saying Apple will have a lot going for it in 2013, if shareholders are willing to believe.

"The bottom line is that we believe AAPL needs something that investors can look forward to in the numbers for the stock to work well," Munster wrote. "We are more optimistic about 2013 as we believe Apple will not only launch a television, but also a lower priced iPhone for prepaid markets in 2014 or potentially sooner."