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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.