Today I'm going to tell you about a technology superpower that, within the next two months, I'll be buying into with $4,000 of my own money. I'm so confident that my pick will outperform the market that if I sell any shares within the next three years, I'll donate $100 to charity.
This is the fourth article in a series that I'm writing about my retirement portfolio, which I'm dubbing "The Cheesehead Portfolio" in honor of my home state of Wisconsin. If you wish to see my first three selections for the portfolio, check them out:
Three years from now, I fully expect today's pick, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) , to handily trounce the market, thanks in no small part to its dominance of the technology world.
Truth be told, there's so much that has been written and so much to say about Apple, that I'm going to break down my reasons for buying into three categories.
Health of a CEO
Quite possibly the biggest drawback when investors look to Apple is the health of CEO Steve Jobs. I have covered the issue on two separate occasions. Specifically, I have been trying to glean as many possible clues as I can to determine what type of leader Steve Jobs is: Level 4 or Level 5.
The basic difference between these two is that while both have overwhelming success when at the helm of their companies, Level 4 leaders do not set their organizations up for success after they leave, while Level 5 leaders do.
Let's face it. Someday -- whether tomorrow or five years from now -- Apple will be Jobs-less. When that day comes, the company will still have its hands full dealing with competition from Research In Motion's (Nasdaq: RIMM ) phones, Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT ) office suite, Netflix's (Nasdaq: NFLX ) streaming options, and Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG ) Android.
I believe that Jobs -- possibly realizing his own mortality -- has taken steps to ensure institutional greatness. Case in point: Jobs recently hired Joel Podolny, dean of the Yale School of Management, to start what was dubbed Apple University. It aims to institutionalize the DNA that has led to Apple's greatness. Courses are taught based on case studies from how key decisions have been made during Jobs' tenure.
When it comes to making products that people just need to have, Apple does it better than anyone else. And that appeal isn't limited to the United States.
As fellow Fool Eric Bleeker pointed out recently, Apple is becoming an international juggernaut. The chart below, shamelessly stolen from Eric's story, shows just how fast international sales have grown ... and how far they could still go.
Sales Growth Between 2005 and 2010
Profit Growth Between 2005 and 2010
Percent of Total Profit
Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's. Retail sales are distributed in proportion to general sales levels. Accounting for regional differences in retail store sales, end sales may differ slightly.
The iPhone and iPad are the it products for the entire world right now. And even though profits from Asia have grown 2,991% in the last five years, they still only make up about half as much as in the U.S. or Europe -- and Asia's market potential is considerably larger.
Apple gets it
But maybe the most encouraging, and simultaneously underappreciated, development that has me excited about Apple is its release of iCloud. Sure, much has been made about its possibilities for dominating the musical sphere once again. And don't get me wrong, Pandora (NYSE: P ) and Sirius XM (Nasdaq: SIRI ) better be prepared for a dogfight if they want to survive.
But there's far more to the iCloud than just music. If Apple can make the cloud as seamless as it claims it can, computing won't be about hardware anymore -- just whether you have access to your ... well ... everything on the cloud.
Before this announcement, Apple's key edge over the competition was that it simply produced products that were in much higher demand. While that's admirable, it is by no means an enduring competitive advantage. With the iCloud, switching costs could become so high for choosing a competitor that Apple will be able to lock most people in as users for life.
If you want to keep tabs on Apple, I suggest you add it to your watchlist today.
In the meantime, if you're interested in learning more about how cloud computing will be revolutionizing how we go about computing, I welcome you to view a special video we have prepared free of charge: "The Two Words Bill Gates Doesn't Want You to Hear." In it, you'll get a better idea for what cloud computing really is, and what two companies are poised to profit from the trend more than any other. It's yours, absolutely free, by clicking here.