Apple and Imperfection

on January 23, 2013
Reading Time: 1 minute

Apple-Think Different

Near the end the dot-com bubble, smart investors finally realized that a major problem with tech stock pricing was that dozens of companies were priced to perfection: Their stock prices were so high relative to the underlying financials that only a perfect performance could justify the share price for any length of time. Very few companies could deliver perfection and the house of cards folded.

Apple these days seems to be the opposite of a bubble dot-com. Despite a depressed stock price–it was trading at a very mediocre 11.6 times trailing earnings before accounting for a sharp after-hours post-earnings plunge. Apple has now given up all the gains of the past year,

And while I am no financial analyst, this is ridiculous. The sharp run-up in the stock that ended abruptly this fall was fully justified by the company’s stellar performance and even at its peak, Apple was still underpriced by most fundamental metrics. Two things have been true about Apple’s performance for some time: Its margins and growth rate were both unsustainable. But in a reasonable world, there was room for both to decline, as they have, and for shares to keep rising, as they most certainly haven’t.

Apple has always been a stock that traded heavily on emotion rather than analysis and now is no different. If pessimists want to drive it lower, they mill, despite a P/E heading for single digits and a price that’s just a bit more than three times the cash on hand.

Disclosure: I do not have any direct position in AAPL stock, though funds I invest in may.