Today: Apple's record-breaking ride on Wall Street fizzles as rival Samsung shows off new gadgets and one analyst moves away from the stock. Also: Tesla declines too, despite gigafactory news ahead.
The Lead: Apple hot streak ends as Samsung debuts, analyst's doubts take stage
After a two-week hot streak that sent Apple to record-breaking highs, the stock finally slumped Wednesday as rival Samsung showed off its newest gadgets and one analyst proclaimed that the run-up had already accounted for potential iPhone 6 profits.
Apple dropped 4.2 percent to $98.94, closing at less than $100 for the first time since originally topping that number for a record high on Aug. 19. In the interim, Apple hit new highs in seven of nine trading sessions despite a celebrity photo hacking scandal as enthusiasm built for a debut event scheduled for next week, which is expected to include the introduction of an iPhone 6 and possibly a wearable gadget.
Ahead of Apple's show, the world's most valuable company ceded the stage to industry and courtroom rival Samsung, which showed off its next round of Galaxy Note smartphones along with a virtual reality headset Wednesday. Samsung offered a new twist with the Galaxy Note Edge, wrapping the screen around the sides of the phone, with the side panels used for instant access to popular functions such as the camera and apps.
The Galaxy Note is Samsung's "phablet" line, which offers larger screens than most smartphones but are still smaller than a tablet, a size that many reports suggest Apple is targeting with the new iPhone. Research firm IDC reported Wednesday that phablets will surpass laptops in 2014 and tablets in 2015 in terms of shipment volume, underscoring the battle Apple is reportedly set to enter.
"With Apple expected to join the space in the coming weeks, we anticipate even more attention on phablets as larger screen smartphones become the new norm," analyst Melissa Chau said in Wednesday's announcement.
Analysts have been optimistic in the run-up to Apple's announcement, helping fuel the recent run, but one expert openly decided to go against that grain Wednesday: Pacific Crest analyst Andy Hargreaves wrote simply, "We recommend taking profits in Apple."
In Hargreaves' analysis, Apple's stock gains have already priced in potential profits from the iPhone 6, and immediate returns on the rumored new product categories will be unlikely to be a big boost given the huge revenues Apple is already generating.
"This leaves limited room for upside to the stock, in our view, unless Apple launches new products that can generate billions of dollars of incremental operating profit," he wrote.
While Apple prepares for next week's event at the Flint Center in Cupertino, its legal team went back to work in mediation talks with Silicon Valley workers. Apple and three other local tech firms -- Google, Intel and Adobe -- are trying to settle the class-action lawsuit claiming they conspired with one another to avoid poaching employees, after Judge Lucy Koh shot down their previous agreement last month.
SV150 market report: Tesla shares slam on the brakes
As Wall Street indexes sank Wednesday, Silicon Valley tech stocks were falling even faster, with Tesla Motors joining Apple in an abrupt end to record-breaking gains.
Tesla fell 1 percent to $281.19 a day after a prediction of $400 share prices helped fuel new all-time highs, but the Palo Alto electric-car maker is preparing to take the spotlight in a positive way. Tesla told the Mercury News that it plans to join Nevada officials in a big announcement Thursday in the capital of Carson City, with an anonymous source confirming that the announcement will be the placement of Tesla's "gigafactory" in that state. CEO Elon Musk's planned battery factory --which he hopes will produce more lithium-ion batteries than the rest of the world managed to manufacture last year -- sparked a fight among southwestern states looking to acquire a major manufacturing hub touting 6,500 jobs, but Tesla signaled Nevada's prowess by revealing it had cleared land near Reno earlier this year.
Google announced the biggest move yet for its young biotech startup Calico, a deal with pharmaceutical giant AbbVie that will lead to a research and development center focused on fighting cancer and other diseases, with the companies committing up to $1.5 billion combine in the effort. Google gained 0.2 percent to $589.52 while reportedly working to keep videos of violent beheadings from spreading on YouTube; Twitter, which dropped 3.3 percent to $49.33 on the day, was also mentioned as a company working to prevent the spread of such videos. Netflix increased 0.2 percent to $477.39 after striking a deal to air the upcoming TV series "Gotham" after it completes its first season on Fox, and Facebook fell 1.1 percent to $75.83 while suffering its second widespread outage in a month. After trading ended, Palo Alto's Tibco Software announced that it was reviewing "a wide review of strategic and financial options," in the words of CEO and Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, seemingly confirming last month's report that the board was approaching potential buyers. After falling 0.8 percent to $21.04 Wednesday, Tibco shares shot higher than $23 in late trading following the announcement.
Up: Google, Oracle, Cisco, HP, Gilead, Netflix, LinkedIn
Down: Apple, eBay, VMware, Yahoo, Juniper, Facebook, Tesla, Twitter
The SV150 index of Silicon Valley's largest tech companies: Down 19.75, or 1.21 percent, to 1,619.24.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index: Down 25.62, or 0.56 percent, to 4,572.56.
The blue chip Dow Jones industrial average: Up 10.72, or 0.06 percent, to 17,078.28
And the widely watched Standard & Poor's 500 index: Doen 1.56, or 0.08 percent, to 2,000.72.