Is this thing on? OK, thanks.

Hi. My name is Anders and I'm an Apple (NAS: AAPL) skeptic. I made that clear two years ago, and the stock has more than doubled since then. So far, I've been very, very wrong.

Being an Apple skeptic is not a terribly popular position today. Cupertino just posted a monster quarter, breaking records left and right. iPhones are beating the entire Android ecosystem, iPads outsell market-leading Hewlett-Packard's (NYS: HPQ) PC systems, the company is richer than King Midas and Croesus put together, and CEO Tim Cook can probably blow gold bars out his nose at will. All under the watchful spirit of patron saint Steve Jobs, of course.

I get it. What's not to love?

We're talking about an already huge company that's growing larger and larger, faster and faster. Its sleekly elegant consumer devices are not only beautiful but also easy to use, and surely deserve the price premiums that make them so darn profitable. And ever since Jobs presented iTunes with sensational TV ads to the tunes of U2 and Feist, you can look up "cool" in any dictionary and find a full-color Apple logo as the definition.

But empires fall all the time. What makes this one any different?

Examples, please
The transcontinental dominions of Genghis Khan and Alexander the Great fell apart. Once one of the largest retailers in the world, Montgomery Ward is now firmly out of business. Fellow mall anchor Sears (NAS: SHLD) is heading down the same path. And do I need to remind you of Eastman Kodak (OTC: EKDKQ), which went bankrupt after 132 years in business and may liquidate entirely before that story is fully told? Note the consumer theme in these sorry tales (well, except for the ancient conquerors).

Many fallen kings enjoyed their greatest moments of glory very shortly before their downfall. Take Enron, for example. The energy trader was revealed as a sham in 2001, and has become a poster child for diversifying your 401(k) portfolio. Just before the scandal blew up, Enron had been named "Most Admired" by Fortune six years running. If everybody says they love your company, don't believe the hype.

This could very well be the peak of Apple's powers.

Everything that took Apple to this summit was envisioned and commissioned by Steve Jobs. There was never any guarantee that even his style genius would deliver hits unending, but it sure doesn't help that he's gone. The common consumer (Latin: Communi accumsan) is a notoriously fickle creature that may grow tired of soft, white plastic at any moment. If and when Apple stops dictating taste trends, will the company be ready to adapt to new market conditions?

The bigger they are, the harder they fall. The plunge from these lofty heights looks painful indeed. I'm not saying that Apple should die a horrible, scandal-tainted death like Enron, but it'd take divine intervention to keep those gleaming cylinders firing. And like I said, the patron saint is watching from the celestial sidelines now.

I'm not kidding around
Yeah, I'm still a skeptic today. I was just a little early to the party the last time I made this call. This time, I'm putting my professional reputation on the line.

The brand new thumbs-down CAPScall I just placed on Apple will probably hurt my All-Star standing for a while. There's a fair bit of market momentum behind this mirage. Well, tough. Market timing is a sucker's game anyway. Come back in two or three years, and I believe that the growth story will start to crumble.

Consumers will move on to the next big, shiny thing and reduce Apple to a niche player once again. Any empire built on the taste buds of retail consumers stands on feet of quicksand. The circle of life complete, Apple shares will be a whole lot cheaper. You can quote me on that.

Apple admittedly had a huge quarter, but there are plenty of other companies out there that investors need to watch during this earnings season. In the Fool's "Fourth-Quarter Earnings Report: 7 Stocks You'll Want to Watch," you'll find information on this quarter's possible big performers. It's completely free for our readers, so click here to access your free report today.

At the time this article was published Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinion, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Check out Anders' holdings and bio, or follow him on Twitter and Google+. We have a disclosure policy.

Copyright © 1995 - 2012 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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Iiiiiiiiiiiii

Steve jobs built a company that would last 150,00 it will never fail and people thought apple was going down last quarter but came up. People hate apple and are skeptic but then they are proven wrong I think apple will stay king forecer

January 26 2012 at 12:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
geordisjd

Over 10 years ago, I invested a few thousand bucks in Apple when the shares were at $21 apiece, because I thought it would rise from its ashes, being as good as it had been. From good, it became great. Those few dollars increased by almost 2,000 %.
Don't know what I should be anxious about. Only sorry I didn't invest more. I'd have over $15,000,000 and would be able to retire,but my broker instead invested the rest of my money in 100% losers :-((. Don't believe in brokers with bad taste and skills.
Why would Apple collapse? It's got the best products and keeps improving. shares went up 6.24% today, an incredible feat, and Apple haters are screaming foul, it's a sign that it's doomed!

Huh? Where did logic go since the 20th century?

Thank you, Steve. We miss you.

January 26 2012 at 1:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gregg DeBartolo

Anders, you're an idiot. You've been so wrong for so long you have no reputation regarding Apple. Enron? They did not manufacture anything AND cooked their books. Check back with us in 132 years, you ingrate.

January 25 2012 at 9:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mrmoosepeter

How could you possibly think apple will collapse? You were dead wrong 2 years ago and apple is just going to get bigger. People thought apple was dead 13 years ago. And do you know what happened? Apple shot back because Apple is not just some phase people will go through. It was built to last and it will.

January 25 2012 at 7:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply