Posts Tagged ‘AAPL’

I remember the first Gulf War back in 1991.  The entire world was freaked out, including — especially — the financial markets.

Yet, the day we attacked, the Dow had one of its best days ever.

I remember hearing the phrase, “flight to quality.”  That is, when the going gets scary, the smart move to safe and trustworthy investments.

On that January 18th day back in 1991, it was IBM that people flocked to… IBM being, back then, the most important tech company on the planet.

Over the last few days, it’s been AAPL.

I think this puts a lot of the nitpicking criticisms of AAPL in appropriate perspective:  When the going is tough, the tough don’t hesitate to flock to Apple.

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Lots of downgrades for Apple over the last few weeks.  The stock was spooked from a $180 level just two weeks ago to around $166 today.

It has nothing to do with the holiday quarter that Apple is going to report on tomorrow after the market’s close… that, people believe, will come in at record levels.

No, it has to do with how the iPhone X is selling this quarter.  Channel checks with suppliers indicate Apple is slashing its expectations of iPhone X sales this quarter… by as much as half

… which certainly seems like a huge let down given that the iPhone X is supposed to be the flagship product and the first iPhone to crack the $1,000 price barrier.

But… come on, people… did you really think a $1,000 iPhone X should sell in consumer numbers?  It’s not supposed to be a volume leader… rather, it’s supposed to be something exclusive and, quite frankly, unattainable for many.

That’s the whole point… to have a high-end iPhone entrant that (1) makes the device/technology more desirable, and (2) contributes in some way to an even higher overall iPhone family “ASP” or Average Selling Price (which is already the highest in the industry).

My guess is — since there are no negative reports on the iPhone 8 — that it’s not only selling well, but making up for any short-fall from the iPhone X… after all, if they’re not buying an iPhone X, they’re buying one of the other not-so-cheap models.

Additionally, don’t be surprised if some of Apple’s “smaller” businesses — like cloud & other services — make meaningful contributions, too.  Even the analysts that have raised flags on the iPhone X agree that last quarter should be pretty spectacular for the company.

And, finally, I always have to throw in the irrationality of the market:  Apple, one of the most stellar tech companies in the world according to any measure (even growth), has a P/E of 14.2 forward earnings… while the average company in the S&P 500 has 18.6.  If you’re looking at tech leaders, Google has a forward P/E of 28… and Amazon has — wait for it — 168.  Go figure.

AAPL has been beaten down so much by negative sentiment in the last few weeks that I think we might have a nice setup for a pop after earnings tomorrow.

At least, that’s what the contrarian in me thinks.

Long-time marketing/sales/tech guy Bill Campbell passed yesterday.

Not a lot of people outside Silicon Valley knew him… but everyone inside did.  Among his many business feats, he somehow managed to play significant roles at arguably the two most important — and competitive — technology companies in the world, Apple and Google… at the same time!  If ever there was a testament to how good Bill was — or how much influence he had in Silicon Valley — that’s it.

As significant, Bill was very active in the Sacred Heart community (where my daughter goes to school)… not just donating (which he did a LOT of), but participating, too… indeed, he coached a generation of “powder puff” girl football players.  Sadly my daughter will have missed the coaching-experience-of-a-lifetime by just a year.

I always chuckle when I think how I met Bill.  It was at a big Macworld party.  At the urinal.  Just two guys having a simple chat.  No stranger to a locker room, Bill was absolutely a guy’s guy.

I met with Bill in (ahem) a more professional environment when he took over the Claris division of Apple.  My T/Maker business partner Heidi Roizen and I pitched Bill on making our award-winning word processor, WriteNow For Macintosh, the upgrade to MacWrite.  At one point during the conversation Bill took us on a tour of Claris’ new headquarters… mostly empty because the spin-out was brand new… and mostly there were just IT and facilities folks walking around.  What impressed me about Bill was he knew everyone by name… essentially the “little” people… and true to his coaching reputation, high-fived several of them as we walked by.

He just seemed like someone you wanted to play for… err, I mean, work for.

Nothing came of the conversations, but we stayed in touch.  Bill asked me to serve on the board of Great Plains Software (eventually acquired by Microsoft) and, unfortunately, I was in the process of taking a company public and felt I couldn’t short-change my shareholders, things were so incredibly, incredibly hectic.  On top of that Laurie’s dad was in the process of passing away.  Reluctantly, and hesitantly, I explained all of this to him… and to my great relief he couldn’t have been more gracious — and supportive — in his understanding… it was easy to see why he was a true elder statesman.

Our paths would cross from time to time.  Ironically, about 25 years after my Claris meeting, I was cleaning out my basement and found an old WriteNow t-shirt… to which I proudly wore to the next sporting event at Sacred Heart.  As luck would have it, I ran into Bill… and without skipping a beat, he pointed at my t-shirt and laughed, saying something like, “it’s still going strong after all these years!”  Goodness knows he’s had a lot more important things on his mind between then and now… but it brought such a smile to my face that he remembered.

Here’s to someone who went strong for 75 years.  Rest in peace, Coach.

Everyone expects Apple to announce mind-boggling blow-out earnings tomorrow after the market closes.

Normally I would look at that as a strong contrarian signal.

But while everyone is talking about blow-out earnings, the stock is acting opposite… almost as if it’s already pricing in inevitable disappointment.

So what’s a contrarian to do?

My guess is unless something shocking happens — like there were significant production problems that Apple somehow kept secret… which, given the exhaustive research and scrutiny Apple is put under, seems unlikely at this point (as in we would have already heard something) — things feel like they’ve been artificially set up to bounce…

… meaning, the stock should have made a slow ascent closer to its 52-week high… to around $116-$118… and even beyond into the early $120’s… but it hasn’t… it’s been trading at closer to $105-$106 as recently as last week… which means when people finally see that the mind-boggling blow-out earnings are real, we’ll see a bounce into an area where it should have been trading at all along.

So, as weird as this is to say:  A contrarian view about the market’s contrarian view.

There’s a great maxim in investing:  Buy the rumor and sell the news.

It means that things go up in anticipation… but when the news is released, reality usually puts the hype in perspective.

It will be interesting to see “if it’s different this time” (so to speak)… that is, if AAPL keeps rising after the expected September 9th iPhone 6 introduction.

I think it will.

Because Apple isn’t making just one introduction this year… they have more queued up… the iWatch… a payment system… and — hopefully before it’s too late — iOS TV.

Even the iPhone 6 could be a multiple shot… since everyone in the world will be speculating how many zillions they sold in the first 30 seconds of introduction… over the first weekend… by the end of the year… etc.

Guess we’ll know the answer soon enough.

Disclaimer:  I continue to be on an AAPL bandwagon… sorry in advance!

Just read a Motley Fool piece entitled, “Samsung’s CFO Said Something That Might Concern Apple Shareholders.

The article suggests that if Samsung is having mobile problems (particularly in emerging markets), maybe Apple could be, too?  That’s certainly a reasonable suggestion.

But, what the article doesn’t even contemplate is this:  Maybe Apple is gaining marketshare?

Wasn’t AAPL’s last quarter bolstered by some smart discounting in the emerging markets?  Maybe that good trend is continuing?

But from the bigger picture point-of-view:  Does anyone really think the mobile business is slowing down?

Like clothes and food and water, mobile is the one thing that everyone on the entire face of the planet really, truly might have to buy… and given the changing nature of technology, apparently buy over and over again.

Except, unlike clothes and food and water, which you can buy from literally about a zillion companies… it feels like you can only buy mobile from two places right now:  Apple and Samsung.

(Take a step back for a moment… that’s a pretty freakin’ amazing statement to make… no wonder Apple is the world’s most valuable company.)

So… when the CFO of Samsung says their quarter isn’t “look[ing] too good,” I kinda read that differently than Sam at The Motley Fool.  What this suggests to me is that AAPL’s upcoming quarter might not be as “throw away” as a lot of people think.  I believe AAPL has meandered downwards over the last few weeks exactly because of this type of erroneous thinking.

If Apple, indeed, pulls another rabbit out of its hat (like it did last quarter), that could set up another potential earnings pop… unless, of course, AAPL starts climbing in anticipation of that beforehand.

Either way, I think we’re higher by 5-10% after quarterly earnings than we are now ($91.98), especially after touching the $80’s last week.

We’ll see.

Psychologically speaking, all AAPL investors are used to AAPL trading in triple digits.

And because the stock price is so high, small percentage moves still look like big $ moves.

So while the pundits all claim that Apple’s upcoming stock split won’t really make any kind of material difference, I wonder if it might?

After the stock split AAPL will probably be trading in the 80’s or 90’s…

… and I just wonder if — by habit — AAPL shareholders (fanboys all of them) will quickly bid the price up to the split-adjusted $100 “psychological level”?

If that happens, that might be the equivalent of a really quick ride to the old $700 price.