Apple Stock in 2013: Hang On For Another Wild Ride

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Following the dizzying ups and downs of 2012, investors may be hoping for a little less drama from Apple stock in 2013.

While 2013 figures to be a very different year for Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), don't plan on the ride getting much smoother.

With 2012 annual revenue at $156.5 billion and annual profit at almost $42 billion, Apple's biggest challenge heading into 2013 is figuring out how to add meaningful growth.

For example, when Apple reports earnings on Jan. 24, you won't see a repeat of last year's incredible December quarter year-over-year revenue growth of 73% and profit growth of 118%.

Numbers like that helped launch Apple stock on a tear from just over $400 at the start of the year to $544 by March 1.

But this January Apple would need quarterly revenue of $80 billion and profits of $28.5 billion to duplicate that rate of growth. Not even Apple can do that.

If Apple meets current analyst expectations for its Q1 2013, it will have revenue growth of 18% and a 4% decline in profit. That's not the sort of year-over year performance that lights a fire under a stock.

Indeed, Apple stock throughout 2013 will face difficult year-over-year comparisons as each quarter goes up against 2012's record numbers. AAPL is now officially a victim of its own success.

And any hiccups along the way will surely ding Apple stock in 2013, as we've seen repeatedly over the past three months.

Here's a look at what could go right - and wrong - for Apple stock in 2013.

Negatives for Apple Stock in 2013

First, let's take a look at some issues that have dragged down AAPL over the past few months, and could continue to weigh down Apple stock in 2013:

  • Analyst Chatter: As we saw this past week, analyst downgrades are poison. While many other analysts reiterated their favorable view of the stock, Wall Street focused only on the negative reports. More such downgrades in 2013 would be a major drag on AAPL.
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