Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Apple Closing in on All-Time High

Story first reported from CNN.com


Remember all the investor disappointment about Apple's latest earnings report? That's no longer an issue. Shares of Apple were up nearly 1.5% Monday to about $625. The stock has rebounded more than 8% since a 4% pummeling the day after it missed forecasts and guided lower. In fact, the stock is now just 3% below the all-time high of $644 it set back in April.

It appears that any lingering concerns about Apple's rare case of under-performing and under-delivering have been replaced by excitement about new products (iPhone 5 is rumored to be unveiled and go on sale next month) and the upcoming dividend payment to shareholders. As such, several traders on StockTwits believe that it would be a mistake to bet against Apple.

Research firm analyzes 6 million social conversations to conclude:"the launch of the
Apple may one day screw up royally and release a product that nobody wants.

But take one look at the share prices of Research in Motion, Nokia, Hewlett-Packard and Dell and ask yourselves if you think any of them will soon make hardware that's sexier than iEverything? (Or that EL James book it seems everybody but me is reading.) Didn't think so.

Sure, Microsoft, Google and Samsung are all fierce competitors too. But Apple deserves the benefit of the doubt ... assuming there still are any doubts of course.

Apple's $2.65 per share dividend will be paid out on August 16 to any shareholders of record as of August 13. So if you are silly enough to be shorting Apple, it makes sense to cover before the dividend is paid. Otherwise you would have to return (i.e. buy back) the shares you borrowed and also pay the dividend on top of that.

I'm still not sure I believe the stock split chatter though ... even though a split could make the shares even more attractive to retail investors and the people who manage the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

It will be interesting to see what Apple's stock does once the iPhone 5 is released. The next milestone for the company would be exceeding $600 billion in market value.  Apple is currently only about 3% below that level. That may seem obscene. But as I've said repeatedly in Buzz columns, videos and over on Twitter -- aka the thing that Apple is never going to buy no matter what the NY Times and other media outlets are reporting --  Apple remains a cheap stock.

Apple is valued at just 14 times fiscal 2012 earnings estimates -- despite its market dominance, stellar growth prospects (forecasts of 20%+ EPS growth on average for the next few years) and squeaky-clean balance sheet with well north of $100 billion in cash. Now you add on the dividend -- which will yield a relatively 1.7% -- to boot?

I had my colleague David Goldman ask Siri if it's a good idea to short Apple stock. (I merely possess a Siri-less iPhone 4.) Her response? "I cannot help you pick stocks, Dave." That was very diplomatic of her. But trust this lowly carbon-based life form. The answer is no.

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