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The 700 Reasons to Buy Palm

There are several remarkable things about Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) . Here's one: When Steve Jobs speaks, as he did yesterday at the annual Macworld trade show, a reality distortion field engulfs the business world. Everyone forgets anything that doesn't have to do with the Mac, the iPod, or, for that matter, the iEverything. Well, Fools, there's lots of other news happening. Most of it has zero to do with Apple. And some of is actually pretty interesting.

Take Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick Palm (Nasdaq: PALM  ) , for example. During last week's Consumer Electronics Show, it rolled out the Treo 700w -- the first Windows-powered smartphone from the company best known for creating the Palm handheld operating system.

The news interests me for two reasons. First, Fool co-founder David Gardner and I picked Palm as our selection for Stocks 2005. (See our pick for Stocks 2006 by clicking here to get your copy.) And, second, David chose Palm for the April issue of Stock Advisor when the shares took a hit last spring. Palm's stock is up more than 58% since.

My guess is that the run-up has as much to do with Palm's product line as its improving fundamentals. That's what makes the new 700 so important to investors. The Windows line could have a dramatic impact on the business over time; shareholders need to get an idea of the odds of that occurring. So I consulted an expert, one of the earliest of early adopters: David Gardner. His take:

"I think making a Windows version is a good move for Palm, as it opens up the corporate Windows market more -- an enterprise-driven move, as opposed to Treo's past consumer-driven strategy."

I'd say it's even more important in the wake of the patent troubles facing Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) . But can the Treo 700 really act as a substitute for CrackBerry addicts? I'm not sure, unless there's no alternative. David, however, points out that of the few real upgrades built into the 700, mail is most definitely one of them. That could make it easier to win over corporate converts accustomed to the BlackBerry's well-oiled mobile mail mechanism.

What about the shares? They're still potentially very cheap. Indeed, according to Yahoo! Finance, analysts peg Palm's earnings growth at just 10% over the next five years. That means their projected multiple to net income, based on assumptions five years out, is ... 14. That's within spitting distance of insane for a tech company of any sort, but especially for one expected to grow earnings by 16% this year, and which develops some of the industry's most-sought after gadgets. The low multiple leaves ever-greater potential for upside earnings surprises, particularly with estimates erring toward what I'd consider conservative.

So, go ahead, give Apple its due. Steve and Co. deserve it. Just don't forget about Palm and the Treo in the process.

Dial up related Foolishness:

Palm is one of many market-beating picks David and Tom Gardner have made forMotley Fool Stock Advisor. Get access to them all, and two portfolios smashing the market by more than 25% each, bysigning upfor a risk-free 30-day trial. Orsubscribefor a year and getStocks 2006, which features our top analysts' best picks for the year ahead, free.

Fool contributorTim Beyersowns a Treo 600, but not stock in Palm, nor in any of the other companies mentioned in this story. You can find out what's in his portfolio by checking Tim's Foolprofile. The Motley Fool has an ironcladdisclosure policy.

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