Apple's Share Run-Up May Have Run Out of Gas


Apple Inc (AAPL) shares are off from their all-time high of $319 after a furious rally that moved them from $250 at the beginning of September. iPad sales and and anticipation that the iPhone's growth would bury rival Research In Motion helped full the run.

This week Apple's modest earnings forecast and the lackluster reaction to the company new Mac Book Air pressed the company's shares below $305. Its assault on higher prices may be over for now, even though some analysts have price targets on the stock that are close to $400

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Apple faces new challenges. It's smart phone operating system seems to be losing ground to Google's (GOOG) Android OS. The Android app store has started growing quickly, which means users of Android-based phones are more likely to be tethered to that platform -- just as Apple iPhone users have been connected tightly to their handsets as they download some of the 200,000 plus products from the App Store. In short, Google has started to replicate Apple's hardware/software ecosystem.

Apple is not expected to launch any major product initiatives in the near future, and the anticipation of such launches has often driven the company's share price higher. Even rumors that a new version of the iPhone is on tap has done little to help; even if the rumors are true, few expect the "iPhone 4.1" to make it to market until next year.

Apple's next big milestone is the announcement of the quarter that covers the upcoming holiday sales period. That announcement is three months off. In the near term, the fuel for the stock's recent rally may have run out.