Shares of Apple Inc. dropped Friday, despite a broader rally for all three major indices in the U.S. and the S&P 500 closing at a five-year high. Investors may have been reacting to news of slower MacBook sales during the December quarter, and possibly to good news for Google from the FTC.
Source: Yahoo! Finance
NPD reported preliminary numbers for the five weeks leading up to Christmas showing MacBook sales declining 6 percent year-over-year. While that's far better than the PC industry as a whole—sales of PCs declined 11 percent during the same period—lower Mac revenue was still enough to bother investors.
$AAPL closed on Friday at US$527.00, a loss of $15.096 (-2.78 percent). Microsoft ($MSFT) also took it on the chin, closing at $26.74, down $0.51 (-1.87 percent). HP ($HPQ) closed unchanged at $15.14, while Dell ($DELL) posted a slight gain to end the day at $10.97, up $0.030 (+0.27 percent). Intel ($INTC), the company making most of the chips for PCs and all of the chips for Macs, closed at $21.16, down $0.160 (-0.75 percent).
You've Been Googled!
Google may also have had an affect on Apple's stock. Bear with us: this is or own analysis, not necessarily a mainstream opinion.
On Thursday, the FTC announced that it wouldn't be filing antitrust charges against Google for its search practices. This has been hailed as a huge win for Google, as the company won't have to change its search practices. Wall Street understandably believes this will be good for Google's business. $GOOG closed at $737.97, up $14.30 (+1.98 percent).
While search doesn't directly affect Apple, it's possible that investors took a "what's good for Google can't possibly be good for Apple" position, sending $AAPL lower in the process. This isn't the sort of thing that can realistically be measured, but we offer it as context for those looking at why $AAPL declined on Friday.
What's especially interesting is that the FTC did find that Google had abused the standards essential patents it acquired with the purchase of Motorola Mobility. As part of the FTC ending its 18-month investigation into the search giant, Google agreed to honor its inherited FRAND commitments for those patents.
That actually does affect Apple's business, as some of those patents have been used to defend against Apple's own campaign of patent infringement against Motorola Mobility and other Android OEMs.
It's also possible that the two sides of the FTC's agreement canceled each other out when it comes to $AAPL, or that investors weren't linking that agrement to Apple in the first place and were simply pissed off about those MacBook sales.
Lastly, there's some uncertainty about iPhone in the first quarter of 2013 (Apple's second fiscal quarter). Reports that Apple may have cut iPhone orders this quarter are battling with analyst calls that Apple had a record December quarter.
BusinessInsider added to the mix on Thursday with a piece speculating that Apple cut iPhone 5 orders for the March quarter because it is going to release the next version of iPhone in the May-June timeline.
Uncertainty almost always serves to drag down a stock, and we aren't likely to know more until Apple reports for the December quarter on January 23rd.
*In the interest of full disclosure, the author holds a tiny, almost insignificant share in AAPL stock that was not an influence in the creation of this article.