Apple’s (AAPL) Odd Share Price Drop

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A list of the most actively traded stocks last week turns up two companies with shares in fairly sharp declines. Not Bear Stears (BSC) or Goldman Sachs (GS), but Apple (AAPL) and Qualcomm (QCOM).

Qualcomm’s shares were off 7%, but the company lost its appeal of an ITC ruling to allow handset companies to import phones with its chips. It also lost another court battle with arch rival Broadcom (BRCM).

Apple is another story. Most of the talk in recent weeks has been about how well the new iMacs will do taking market share from PCs adding another leg to Apple’s thriving iPod and emerging iPhone businesses.

Apple was down 6% for the week against a 1% rise in the Nasdaq. After hitting an intraday high of $148.50 on July 26, the stock came down to a $120.30 intraday low last Friday. Big drop.

The company has become the victim of its own success, and because of that the shares are back to where they were at the beginning of July when they started an extraordinary 23% run.

Even the slightest bad news about iPhone sales could drop the stock further. IDC or Gartner data on computer sales will have to show Mac market share rising from where it is just above 5%. If not, the stock will take a tumble. The rate at which iPod sales are growing is decelerating. If that happens faster than Wall St. has calculated, it’s a problem.

Steve Jobs’ company has out-performed the broader market handily as the Nasdaq has risen over the last few months, but now it is falling faster and it will not take much to make that more pronounced.

Douglas A. McIntyre