The slow and painful peel: How Apple could hurt investor portfolios for years to come

Anyone with half an eye on the Nasdaq stock index has probably noticed the hilarious disproportionality between tech giant Apple, Inc. and the other listings on that exchange. While during the summer it seemed like nothing could stop the meteoric rise of the once-left-for-dead computer maker, it's September 21 peak at $705.07 has given way to a roughly 20 percent plunge.

Market analysts, traders, pundits and their grandmothers each have their own theories as to why this is happening, and today we'll try to parse through the noise to see what underlying weaknesses Apple is suffering from that investors may want to keep in mind as they develop their portfolios.

First and foremost, there are lingering concerns that current CEO Tim Cook has largely been unable to fill the shoes of the late Steve Jobs, whose image was intimately tied in with that of the company. Yet Cook's shepherding of the iPhone 5 and the iPad mini has been largely celebrated, so this is most likely a negligible part of the stock decline.

A more likely candidate has been the ongoing debacle following the end of the map software partnership between Apple and its fellow tech giant, Google, Inc. Apple's homemade map app came bundled with its iOS 6 suite and, following release, was universally panned for its blatant inaccuracies and mistakes. Two veteran executives, software guru Scott Forstall and retail vice president John Browett, have been shown the door or are leaving within the next year in the wake of the outcry.

Lastly, Apple's relationship with its China-based manufacturing contractor Foxconn has been repeatedly strained after several worker deaths, a 2,000-strong riot and repeated delays in iPhone 5 and iPad deliveries. These problems expose flaws in the company's business model, which investors might be seeing a sign of long-term structural weakness.

It would be unwise to dump all Apple positions because of these issues, but it's important for investors to diversify accordingly. Cash flow real estate, or revenue in the form of rental properties, is a stable way to hedge riskier bets on the stock market because of their inherent value and the sustainable demand for living space. To learn more, check out and receive a "Free Game Plan Report."