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Apple shares slide as investors lose confidence

On Wednesday, Apple’s shares prices fell by 4 per cent as investors are growing increasingly uncertain about the company’s ability. In the face of unprecedented competition and problems in the supply chain of the new iPhone 5, investors’ confidence is decreasing.

The day after the U.S. election sees the world's most valuable technology company enter unmarked territory.

Apple has been a backbone of many fund portfolios but as of Wednesday the company has reported to have lost 20 per cent - $130 billion of its market value. This comes after their hitting a record high in September of this year. This 20 per cent slump signals a bear market for a stock to Wall Street.

Fund managers are highlighting fundamental concerns about iPhone 5 supply as well as intensifying competition from resurgent rivals, Samsung Electronics and Amazon.com Inc. as well as profit-taking after the elections.

Share confidence is also a political concern with managers signalling doubt over profit-projections post the Presidential elections. In the face of worries over the deep fiscal challenges that beset the re-elected President Obama, investors fear this may signal a new recession.

Apple’s economic performance prior to the share drop this week was impeccable. The growth the company experienced came from the much-celebrated iPhone, launched in 2007, and the introduction of the iPad in 2010. These products upended the PC industry, carving out a novel product market segment.

Despite this many investors question whether Apple can keep innovating and ahead of ever-more aggressive competition.  Investors cite this comes from new leadership. After the death of Apple’s chief visionary, Steve Jobs, last year the company is now under the leadership of CEO Tim Cook.

Last week Cook ousted veteran mobile software chief Scott Forstall, one of Jobs' protégée’s . This was a surprise move with many seeing this as a loss of one of the company's most valuable assets.

Portfolio manager of Forward Management David Readerman has said: "We'll be watching. What's the future creativity from Apple? They've always been able to create new markets none of us realized we needed. It's to be determined if they can continue to do that," Readerman’s portfolio currently has $5.5 billion under management.

Readerman went to state: "We started to trim our position in the September quarter. I'd expect that most growth investors who have been participating with Apple on this great ride from when the iPhone was launched have probably done the same. Companies go through growth cycles and we are in a hiatus. It may be three or six months here before we kick up in the next major growth cycle."

In the short term Apple is having difficulty meeting vigorous demand for the iPhone 5. Chairman Terry Gou of Taiwan's Foxconn Technology Group said on Wednesday the company was "falling short of meeting the huge demand" for the phone. Foxconn are Apple's main contract manufacturer.

In October, Apple predicted its industry-leading margins to shrink this quarter as new products – in particular the iPhone 5, which accounts for about half its revenue, - have become more expensive to build.

Tim Ghriskey, Chief Investment Officer of Solaris Asset Management said: "For now, everything has been refreshed and all the new products are out. Then there are questions about whether margins have peaked at this company."

Apple’s shares in the latest quarter have failed to meet Wall Street's lofty expectations. They have slid as much as 4.6 per cent to a low of $555.75 and ended the day down 3.8 per cent at $558.0019.

Apple options were also most active on Wednesday with traders exchanging 566,000 Apple calls and 448,000 puts near to the close on Wednesday. This is above its daily average of 829,000 contracts, going by options analytics from the firm Trade Alert.

Analysts remain weary of competition as rivals pile into the tablet market, setting up a holiday-season showdown of unprecedented scale. This is beyond the concerns of supply and management issues.

These rivals competitors include Samsung, Google and Amazon. All are now challenging Apple’s supremacy in smartphones and tablets.

In the wake of uncertainty, fund managers say investors may stop using Apple as a share haven to park cash in an unpredictable market.

The American Funds Growth Fund of America is among the biggest mutual-fund sellers of Apple stock.  In the third quarter the Fund dumped 2.74 million shares, 35 per cent of its holdings.

According to Thomson Reuters data, the biggest mutual-fund-holder of Apple stock as of the end of Sept 2012 was the Fidelity Contrafund with 12.4 million shares.

"Because of the uncertainty, you have to have a reason to own it." said Michael Yoshikami, founder and CEO of Destination Wealth Management. "There actually has to be some investment thought now, than just putting it (money) in Apple just because you don't know where else to put it."

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