Skepticism aside, Apple still a buy
Despite Wall Street doubters, there are reasons to stay bullish on the world's most valuable company.
By Geoffrey Seiler, BullMarket.com
Apple (AAPL), a long-term holding on our recommended list, received a rare downgrade after its shares rose to a price that gave it the highest market capitalization of all time.
Oracle Investment analyst Laurence Isaac Balter lowered his rating to "hold" and cut his target on the stock from $670 a share to $650 a share. Nevertheless, we continue to rate the stock a "buy."
Balter wrote, "The hype concerns us, as it sound vaguely familiar to another decade; remember when Microsoft (MSFT) and Cisco (CSCO) were market cap kings?"(Microsoft owns and publishes Top Stocks, an MSN Money site.)
The analyst added, "And just for fun, Apple's market cap is now equivalent to $87.93 for every man, woman and child on Planet Earth." He also believes that the world of television set top boxes and TV is "fraught with margin danger."
We have a number of issues with the Oracle analyst downgrade. First, when Microsoft and Cisco had huge market caps, they were trading at huge multiples (over 60 times, according to The Wall Street Journal), while Apple is not.
AAPL trades at under 12.5 times the 2013 earnings consensus, and about 10 times excluding its next cash and investments (about $125 per share).
Second, while Apple attained the highest market cap ever, on an inflation-adjusted basis, Microsoft's 1999 market cap is about $850 billion in today's dollars, much higher than Apple's at about $620 billion.
Third, Microsoft and Cisco had huge dominant positions in their main markets, with over 90% and 70% market share, respectively.
Apple, by contrast, holds a relatively small market share in the mobile market on a per unit basis, while the tablet market is still in its infancy. Thus, the runway for growth is a lot longer.
As for concerns over the Apple TV, or set top box, or whatever it will be, we think it's plain silly to be worried about a product that no one knows what it will look like or even if it will ever be released.
Unless Apple is going to throw a ton of money at the product and try to acquire content, then it's really immaterial to the Apple story at this point.
We originally bought Apple at $63.70 in March 2006, sold it at $120.99, and then bought it back in two tranches at an average price of $93.88 and have held onto it since. While we don't want to be pigs, we still think the stock has a lot more room left to move significantly higher.
Apple is a great company trading at an inexpensive valuation ahead of the biggest product launch in its history (the 4G iPhone 5). We rate the stock a "buy" with an $825 target.
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