Thursday, August 25, 2011
This chart may be the best monetary testament to the greatness of Steve Jobs, who already can claim to be one of the most outstanding entrepreneurs and business leaders in history.
As my many posts over the years on the subject of Apple will attest, I'm just as sorry to see him forced to retire as anyone, but I do believe that he has created a culture of excellence at Apple that will endure. His health was obviously not improving, so his resignation was probably inevitable, and therefore it is reassuring to see that AAPL is down only 1% today. The best part of the news of his retirement was what Apple's board did NOT do: they didn't appoint an outsider to succeed him. Tim Cook was the obvious choice, and they got it right.
I'm among those who believe that AAPL is still an attractive stock to own. Apple holds a commanding position in a dynamic and expanding industry, and is a proven innovator. Are there any serious competitive threats out there? None so far that I have seen. Google's Android has captured a significant share of the smartphone market, but to date there has been no credible threat from an Android tablet. Android suffers from a significant flaw, since it is virtually impossible for one company to write software that is dynamic, flawless, and competitive on the products of multiple other companies—that's the same source of Windows' ongoing loss of market share to Apple's OS. Nevertheless, it's a good thing there is an Android OS, otherwise the government regulators would likely be attacking Apple for wielding monopoly power.
Despite its incredible growth to date, Apple still has only a relatively small share of the personal computer market, and that is quite likely to expand indefinitely. And although Apple has a large share of the smartphone market, it has only a tiny share of the global mobile phone market. Sooner or later, the vast majority of the world's 4 billion cell phones will be smartphones, and that is where Apple has plenty of room to expand further. At the same time, the tablet market is growing like Topsy, and Apple is almost sure to maintain a huge share of that market. And should Apple once again manage to create some entirely new kind of technological marvel, well, then the sky's the limit.
With all this potential growth in store, AAPL is only trading at a 14.7 multiple of trailing earnings, and a 13.5 multiple of expected earnings. In other words, the market is plenty cautious about Apple's ability to continue to grow at above-average rates. Since I don't see a credible threat to Apple's ability to expand significantly, then I'm comfortable holding the stock.
Full disclosure: I am long AAPL at the time of this writing and have no plans to exit this position.
Posted by Scott Grannis at 11:25 AM