Steve Jobs returned to Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) months ago, but he only returned to the stage yesterday, at a San Francisco event at which the Mac maker introduced new iPods and iTunes software.
A modest 1% sell-off in the stock following the event suggests that investors and fans were disappointed by Apple's announcements. The stock has since recovered, but I think the skeptics had it right the first time. Let's review what the company introduced:
- iTunes 9, which is imbued with a series of features that we in the media have been calling "Cocktail." Among the improvements are in-line lyrics, cover art, and performance videos, all designed to help studios such as Warner Music (NYSE: WMG ) sell more albums via iTunes.
- A new iPod nano with a built-in video camera and FM radio -- designed, it seems, to keep Sony's (NYSE: SNE ) Walkman at bay.
- New iPod Touch models, including a 64-gigabyte version that sells for $399.
- A new 2-GB iPod Shuffle that sells for $59.
None of this is game-changing, which suggests to me that today's modest rally in the shares is tied entirely to Jobs' appearance. Not good.
Let me be clear. I'm as thrilled as anyone to see a healthy Jobs engaging the iThrong. But if I can speak candidly for a moment ... why is this news? Weren't bulls backing Apple exactly because Tim Cook and the rest of the team at One Infinite Loop in Cupertino proved they could do the job without Steve Almighty?
To be fair, the rally could also derive from Mr. Market's surprisingly pleasant coffee-and-breakfast-burrito morning that has sent tech stocks north. Or it could be because RealNetworks' (Nasdaq: RNWK ) Rhapsody streaming application has been added to the iPhone App Store. Rhapsody's customizable playlists should add further interactivity to the iPhone and the iPod Touch, both of which already benefit from streaming apps from Pandora and Sirius XM Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI ) .
Jobs did well yesterday, and Apple is still priced reasonably. Every one of the improvements Apple announced should add incremental value to customers and investors over the course of years.
Years, OK? Not months, and certainly not days.
And that's a problem for the momentum chasers. With its shares nearing a 52-week high, and no new catalysts to speak of -- certainly nothing from the latest announcements -- Apple's stock is likely to go lower before it trends higher, which it will in the years to come. Of that, I am confident.
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