Apple's Next Stop: $645
Jun 11th 2012 10:09PM
Updated Jun 11th 2012 10:10PM
The scary part of a hurricane -- and I say this as a Floridian who made it through Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and a half-dozen lesser named storms after that -- is when the winds die down. It seems as if the worst is over, but sometimes you're merely in the eye of storm. It's the hurricane's halftime, and another burst of fierce winds is about to kick up again.
Where does that leave Apple (NAS: AAPL) after negotiating its way through weeks of wind that whips both ways?
This past week's rally was certainly refreshing, but Apple's 3.4% gain on the week is actually less than the 4% pop in the Nasdaq and the 3.7% uptick in the S&P 500.
In terms of recent trading history, Apple's in the eye. The shares are in the middle of the $644 all-time high that it hit back in April and last month's bottom of $522. Which recent high or low will Apple hit next? There are plenty of reasons to believe that better times are ahead.
Rock you like a hurricane
Are we in the eye of Hurricane Cupertino?
If so, we have only a small chunk of time to go outside, survey the damage, and hunker down to see where the next bands of wind take us.
Investors will probably like what they see.
The unlikely combination of a stagnant Apple share price and rising analyst profit targets on the tech giant are making Apple shares ridiculously cheap on an earnings basis. Apple is now fetching 12 times this fiscal year's projected earnings, and a multiple of less than 11 if we go out to fiscal 2013 (which begins in just four months).
In the face of Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference, the world's most valuable tech company shouldn't be trading this cheap. We've heard about new Macs, but who knows whether Apple is ready to talk about the inevitable iPhone 5 or iTV.
Even if the coding conference is surprisingly thin on stock-moving announcements, we're still looking at more bullish catalysts than bearish ones over the next few months.
The new iPhone 5 should be coming later this summer or in early fall. That alone is going to be a game-changer. It's nearly certain to be Apple's first 4G iPhone. It's also possible that the new smartphone will finally play nice with the network of China's largest wireless carrier -- China Mobile (NYS: CHL) . If you think the iPhone is already huge in the world's most populous nation, just imagine how good things will be once it also has direct access to China Mobile's 672.5 million customers. Yes, that's more people than the United States -- doubled.
Smart moves beyond smartphones
It's perfectly normal for the market to gauge Apple on the ups and downs of the iPhone. That category alone accounted for 58% of Apple's revenue in its latest quarter. However, let's not forget about the iPad.
A ton of private high schools are switching over from traditional textbooks to iPads this fall. It's like falling dominos. Once one private school made the transition, rival schools had little choice but to keep up so they don't seem out of date.
This could've been a market that belonged to Amazon.com's (NAS: AMZN) Kindle Fire. The compelling $199 price point and its market leadership in e-readers could've been strong selling points, but it's just not happening. Nearly everyone I know who teaches at a private school is switching to iPads in a few months. No one is trusting the nascent Kindle Fire that's been on the market only since November.
We also have the iTV. Apple's likely foray into HDTV sets will turn heads, and possibly turn another industry that has been dogged by cutthroat competitors into a winner.
At the recent All Things Digital conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook lamented that he can't talk about a lot of "incredible things" that will be rolling out in the future. In other words, the real catalyst for Apple's future growth may be something other than mobile, tablets, or even high-def TVs.
So why can't Apple blast through its April high of $644 and hit $645? If the news is good and the earnings reports are spectacular -- and that's exactly what has happened at Apple through most of the past few years -- it won't be long before Apple blasts through new highs.
The compelling valuation and perpetually improving fundamentals are signals too loud to ignore.
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At the time this article was published The Motley Fool owns shares of China Mobile, Apple, and Amazon.com. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Amazon.com and Apple and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He owns no shares in any of the stocks in this story and is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.
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