Ian Wyatt: You already know the amazing story of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), “the world’s greatest growth stock.”
Apple was a growth stock for over a decade. And as a result, investors can’t understand that the growth story is over.
But Apple investors (myself included) shouldn’t panic. The fact that this company is maturing actually means positive things for shareholders. And the fact that Wall Street doesn’t get it means we can buy a great company for an incredibly discounted price.
Future profits from Apple will be more dependent upon the company’s pro-shareholder initiatives, including the growing dividend and aggressive share buyback program. Apple might not be a growth company anymore, but it’s fast becoming one of the biggest, most powerful income investments.
You see, the Apple skeptics are missing the boat. They keep debating whether Apple can continue to innovate. They weigh whether the huge company can continue to act like a start-up. And they wonder if Apple will be a pioneer, creating new product categories for years to come.
In my opinion, the jury is still out. Steve Jobs set a very high bar during his tenure as Apple’s CEO. And he had big shoes that Tim Cook is trying to fill.
However, Cook is a talented exec, and Apple continues to employ many of Silicon Valley’s best and brightest. The idea that innovation at Apple died with Jobs doesn’t sit well with me.
But like all big tech companies, Apple has matured. In part due to its size, and in part due to its circumstance.
At the very least, Apple will continue to satisfy the appetite of consumers in current categories. The iPhone isn’t going anywhere, nor is the iPad. Android phones and tablets may be capturing market share, but Apple’s numbers will continue to grow anyway… and the company sells more devices and earns far more profit than any competitor.
Apple’s computer sales have actually bucked industry trends, holding steady or gaining ground even as other manufacturers have seen orders drop precipitously. This means that even if Apple doesn’t have another breakthrough product, the company can and will continue to grow.
Today, the best tech companies aren’t growth investments. They’re value and income investments. When I look at Apple, I see the next General Electric (NYSE: GE).
Except that right now, Apple sells for less than 1/3 the price you’ll pay for GE on an adjusted enterprise value PE.
Apple is becoming a quality company that sells quality goods in an increasingly mature marketplace.