The two-month drought is over. Shares of Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) clawed their way back above US$600 recently. After peaking at US$644 in early April, jittery investors began dumping shares of the tech giant. A blowout quarterly report later in the month couldn’t save the stock. Shares fell below US $600, where they remained through all of May and June. Is it different this time, or is Apple about destined to weave in and out of this round sum? The smart money has to be on the bulls, and I’ll tell you why. Apple is cheaper now than the last time it was here…
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The two-month drought is over. Shares of Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) clawed their way back above US$600 recently.
After peaking at US$644 in early April, jittery investors began dumping shares of the tech giant. A blowout quarterly report later in the month couldn’t save the stock. Shares fell below US $600, where they remained through all of May and June.
Is it different this time, or is Apple about destined to weave in and out of this round sum? The smart money has to be on the bulls, and I’ll tell you why.
Apple is cheaper now than the last time it was here
The biggest ally to any legitimate growth stock is time. After all, improving fundamentals and a flat or falling share price translate into healthy P/E contraction.
See, it’s not just that we’re now a few months closer to forward multiples. Analysts also continue to push their profit forecasts higher.
Three months ago — the last time Apple was trading above US$600 — Wall Street figured the company would earn US$44.03 a share in fiscal 2012 and US$50.25 in fiscal 2013. Now those same targets stand at US$46.84 this year and US$54.21 next year.
Let’s rephrase that a different way. Three months ago, Apple at US$600 meant a fiscal 2012 multiple of 13.6 and a 2013 earnings multiple of 11.9. Today, Apple’s P/E at US$600 is 12.8 for this year and just 11.1 for fiscal 2013.
It gets better. Remember that Apple’s fiscal years end in September. We’re now in its final fiscal quarter of 2012. That ridiculously compelling earnings multiple for fiscal 2013 kicks in less than three months from now.
The future isn’t a scary place
Buying Apple at a forward earnings multiple of 11 is a bargain, but worrywarts disagree. There are plenty of challenges and uncertainty waiting in the wings, they say.
I beg to differ. Yes, I know, I can hear you now …
- “Microsoft‘s (Nasdaq: MSFT) practically giving away Windows 8 Pro upgrades for less than US$40 later this year!” Yes, but even Apple’s computing business has been stagnant over the past year. It’s all about the “good enough” computing devices, where Apple’s a beast with its iPhone and iPad.
- “Google‘s (Nasdaq: GOOG) shipping cheap Android tablets later this month!” Yes, but we’ve had 7-inch Android tablets on the market for US$199 or even less since last year, and Apple’s iPad continues to sell briskly.
- “Android continues to pad its smartphone lead over Apple’s iPhone!” Absolutely, but this is a growing pie. Both Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android are growing at the expense of feature phones and fading mobile operating systems. That would be you, Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM), as BlackBerry owners upgrade to either Android or iPhone smartphones.
An Apple a day
I admit, no one can know for sure whether Apple is really here to stay. Another sector rotation out of tech stocks, or dreary consumer spending news, or certainly Apple-specific events could derail the rally.
Apple shares have closed higher for three consecutive weeks, though it wasn’t until this past trading week that the stock finally broke through US$600. A steady market in the coming week, followed by ho-hum sales of Google’s Nexus 7 tablet and then what has historically been a strong quarterly showing — the company reports July 24 — would seem to be enough to keep Apple’s stock above US$600 and possibly challenge April’s all-time highs.
But even if that doesn’t happen, will it really matter? As long as the fiscal third-quarter report holds up, investors can’t lose. Either they’ll be treated to the gains that Apple rightfully deserves, or we’ll have another round of value-minded opportunists arguing about how Apple keeps getting cheaper as long as its fundamentals outpace the share price.
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A version of this article, written by Rick Aristotle Munarriz, originally appeared on fool.com