Apple AAPL is at its peak valuation so you may think this isn’t the time to invest in this company. Not true.
There are very few companies out there that continue to innovate on every front, whether it’s on the engineering side, or production, or marketing, or pursuing new markets, you name it. You’ll find that whichever way you try to cut it, Apple fits the bill.
So today, I thought I’d do a quick recount of my top reasons for owning this stock.
The pandemic barely dented performance or outlook: Apple is one of the digital enablers of working and entertaining from home, along with Alphabet GOOGL, Microsoft MSFT and several others. So it isn’t surprising that its first-half sales didn’t suffer during the pandemic and in fact actually increased slightly from 2019. Management did say that the stimulus package had something to do with it. But analyst estimates show that the growth will be sustained.
Moreover, its revenues are now expected to grow 4.7% this year. And Apple isn’t a small company with inconsequential sales. We are talking about a $272.3 billion estimate for 2020 coming off $260.2 billion reported in 2019. So that’s HUGE. Managing this kind of growth on such a large base is fantastic. The 15.0% growth expected in 2021 shows that any spike from the pandemic isn’t a one-off thing as far as Apple is concerned. It’s clear that its growth engines are going strong.
And after beating June quarter estimates by a sedate 27.1%, the nine analysts contributing to the Zacks Consensus Estimate bumped it up by 57 cents. The estimate for 2021 also jumped 66 cents.
Hardware sales just go on increasing: Here I’m talking about the iPhone and Mac mainly. Mac sales are gaining from the new normal of course and that trend is likely to continue for a while. As far as iPhones are concerned, 5G should be very big for Apple and drive the next wave of sales. You would think that the way the pandemic has ravaged the economy, consumers would think twice about buying a premium product. But the fact is that Apple represents a quality its loyalists want. Sure, some people do move away, but Apple is working on how to make the customer base even stickier than it already is.
Wearables leader that’s consolidating its market position: This is a market in which Apple came up from behind and took away the leading position like it owned it already. The wearables market is only getting started and with the advent of 5G, I expect Apple to come up with other devices (including IoT) that will support strong growth and help it diversify beyond the iPhone that’s still its top product.
A growing services business: When Apple first started talking about itself as a services company, most of us had some doubts about whether this business could ever really be as big as Apple wanted. And iPhone sales were not doing so great; there were a lot of questions about competition and pricing and so on. But Apple continued to talk about its growing “installed base” (that’s the total number of Apple devices in use at a given point of time). Because the bigger the number of people using its devices, the greater the likelihood of them opting to use its services, including its cloud. Once you’ve stored a ton of stuff there, you kind of don’t feel like going somewhere else.
Additionally, Bloomberg has now reported that this October, Apple will be launching Apple One, which is an Amazon Prime-like bundle of services. While we don’t know what the pricing will be like, the report says that there will be three tiers: the lowest-priced one will include Apple Music and Apple TV+; the middle tier will also include Apple Arcade, its gaming subscription service; and the top tier will add Apple News+, additional iCloud Storage and a fitness offering like Peloton’s PTON that internally referred to as Seymour. This is awesome news. First of all, it will help increase its recurring revenue and so also its visibility into future periods. And second, a service bundle like this that you can keep adding to is an awesome way to retain customers, as Amazon AMZN has already shown.
Financial strength and shareholder returns: With $93 billion in cash on hand, a debt-cap ratio of 60.9%, quick ratio of 1.43, and free cash flow of $12.4 billion in the last quarter, Apple is in an extremely strong position. Apple raised the quarterly dividend in the last quarter from 77 cents to 82 cents (it usually raises in the June quarter) and there’s no risk at all to its payment.
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