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Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) has fallen out of favor lately. The world's most valuable technology company has become less valuable after seeing its stock lose nearly 28% of its value since peaking three months ago. The Cupertino titan has shown itself to be surprisingly mortal, and analysts and investors who used to gush over the iEverything company are now worried about market share, margins, and passing fancies.
What will 2013 bring? Well, let's check it out. Here are some of my predictions for Apple in the year ahead.
1. Apple will hit new highs.
Apple's stock hit an all-time high of $705.07 in September. Arguing that Apple can reverse the negativity of the past three months in the next 12 months may not seem like much of a forecast, but have you seen the stock chart?
The percentage math is crueler on the way up than on the way down after stocks take a hit. Yes, Apple's stock has fallen 28% since peaking in September, but it will take a 38% climb to get it back there.
The factors weighing on Apple are very real. Google's (NASDAQ: GOOGL ) Android is already the global platform of choice for smartphones, and that's starting to happen with tablets. However, Apple is too cheap to stay where it is right now if it continues to grow.
Spoiler alert: Apple will continue to grow.
2. Apple's HDTV will hit the market.
Analysts have been talking up an Apple smart television for years, but 2013 is the year it will become a reality.
Forget about this week's Wall Street Journal reports claiming that Apple is in design talks with suppliers. This has been reportedly going on for a long time, and testing designs isn't the same thing as placing a big order. Steve Jobs teased about this before he died, and CEO Tim Cook has been dropping hints lately.
It's easy to blow off TV as not being a game-changer for Apple. These aren't the portable iOS devices that folks will want to replace every year or two. There won't be wireless carriers willing to send hundreds of dollars to Apple to subsidize lower consumer-facing prices. However, portable media players were dead for more than a decade when Apple rolled out the iPod. Smartphones were largely corporate devices until the iPhone. No one took tablets seriously until the iPad.
Apple can -- and probably will -- redefine the TV industry, legitimizing smart televisions in the process.
There was never any rush for Apple to push this through, but now there is, as the market is losing its confidence in the company.
It will happen in 2013.
3. Apple will go back to blowing analyst profit targets away.
There was a stretch of several years where Apple consistently beat Wall Street income estimates. Sometimes it wasn't even close, and that market-thumping trend helped make Apple the biggest star on this side of the millennium.
The recent past hasn't been as kind. Apple has come up short in three of the past five quarters, including its two most recent reports. That is going to have to change if Apple wants to become a market darling again, and it will.
The market sees Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) throwing billions at Nokia (NYSE: NOK ) to make sure Windows Phone is a relevant mobile operating system. It sees Research In Motion (NASDAQ: BBRY ) gaining buzz for next year's BlackBerry 10 update.
But these are simply distractions. Microsoft and Nokia are two companies whose best days are behind them. Microsoft's market dominance in PC operating systems and Nokia's leadership in old-school feature phones aren't the currencies of choice in their redefined markets.
RIM may be able to hold on to some of its tens of millions of current BlackBerry customers with its updated platform and new phones, but it won't be a match for the established ecosystems that Apple and Google's Android have created. Android is really the only competitor Apple has, and Apple still has room to grow as the high-end player.
Will Apple go 4-for-4 in its four quarters of fiscal 2013? That would be a challenge given its recent 40% success rate over the past five periods, but I predict that Apple will surpass profit forecasts in at least three of the four quarters.
So that's it. Three predictions for Apple in 2013. Feel free to disagree or add your own in the comment box below.
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