I Want More Apple

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, July 25, 2012

I won’t buy any shares right away, since it often makes sense to let investor expectations shake out a bit, but I’d love to add to my Apple (AAPL) holdings by a little bit over the next several months if the market continues to write the shares down.

In case you’re the one person who didn’t notice, Apple reported earnings yesterday and disappointed analysts badly — their earnings per share came in more than 10% below the analyst expectations, which was a bit of a shock because of the lofty expectations built in, and forecasts for the next quarter (their fourth) were even worse. I didn’t see anyone who was loudly predicting a “miss” for this quarter in the hype leading up to earnings, I just saw folks who were speculating on how awesome this quarter would be before what they expected would be a weaker September quarter as the “lag” for the next iPhone settles in (this is what we saw last year, so everyone thinks it will happen again — iPhone sales dropped significantly in the few months leading up to the announcement of the new iPhone as folks who want the latest and greatest held off on purchasing). And it was the iPhone, which drives Apple’s profits, that drove the earnings down this time around — sales in China were not as hot as the last blowout quarter and sales in the US were somewhat tepid compared to expectations (huge pent-up demand in China really “made” the last two quarters), though sales of the iPad were better than expectations.

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Still, it’s worth noting that for long-term investors, what we care about is a company that can grow and compound earnings and innovate and, if we’re lucky, also pay a growing dividend. Apple does two of these things as well as any other large company in the world, and will pay its first dividend of the iPhone era next month. I see no sign that demand for Apple products is going to disappear even if their rapid sales and earnings growth will necessarily slow down — remember, Apple has not carried a premium price for many, many years, they trade at a substantial discount to their growth rate so it’s quite clear that ALL investors are expecting Apple’s sales and earnings growth to slow over the next several years. But a ...

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