Apple 2.0

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Gene Munster: Why Apple's share price has lagged

May 25, 2011: 7:39 AM ET

Piper Jaffray offers 3 reasons investors are nervous and 3 reasons they shouldn't be

In a note to clients issued Wednesday morning, Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster takes a crack at the question Apple (AAPL) investors have been asking since January: Why, despite one record quarter after another, is the stock going nowhere?

The three reasons he offers will surprise no one who has been following this blog: (I quote)

  • The stock is already owned and reaching investment limits among major investors; in other words, Apple is a victim of its own success.
  • We believe investors are nervous that Apple's monster growth rates are establishing tough comps through the next 12 months.
  • Following 20% EPS upside in Mar-11 (reported 4/20), shares of AAPL did not meaningfully appreciate, and are down since then. Looking back at Dec-10 results (reported 1/18), when Apple also reported 20% EPS upside, the stock rose 7% to $364.90.

On the bright side for investors long on Apple, Munster also offers three reasons he believes the stock will soon go higher:

  • Even if the multiple does not increase or goes down, we believe the stock will move higher based on positive earnings revisions. Apple currently trades at 10.8x our CY12 EPS of $30.78 including cash, 8.5x ex-cash. Assuming Apple does more than $48 in EPS in CY14 (25% EPS growth), at current levels the stock would trade at a 6.9x EPS including cash and 4.4x EPS excluding an estimated $120/share in cash. We believe a mid-teens multiple is warranted given EPS growth rates in the mid-to-high 20s over the next four years. [See chart.]
  • We believe Apple's entrance into a new product category, possibly televisions, will unlock new perceived value in the company, and thus the stock.
  • We expect Apple to announce software features for iPhones, iPads and Macs at WWDC on 6/6 that could serve as a near-term catalyst, as expectations for the event are relatively low.
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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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