Is Apple on the Verge of Collapse?

Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) is more than 10% off its highs for the year as a litany of less than stellar news has caused some fearful investors to flee the stock. First it was Apple's "earnings miss," when the company reported revenue and profits below what Wall Street analysts were expecting. Then it was rumors of slowing demand for Apple's iPhone based on "supply checks."

More credible threats such as competition from Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) and its recently launched Kindle Fire are also causing some Apple investors to get jittery. At $199, the Kindle Fire is priced well below the iPad and no doubt will take some share from Apple in the tablet market. We could even end up with an iPad price cut.

Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Android smartphone operating system is giving Apple investors indigestion as well, with some outstanding Fool analysts praising Android's performance. Some investors are even worried that Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) new Windows 8 OS could help it claw back some market share in the smartphone and tablet markets.

These are all legitimate concerns and should not be taken lightly. But competition is nothing new to Apple, and I believe that much of these fears are already baked into the stock price.

As for Apple's so-called earnings miss, the company surpassed its own guidance for the fourth quarter and then went on to issue guidance above Wall Street's expectations for the current quarter. As for the rumors regarding slowing iPhone demand, my esteemed Foolish colleague Eric Bleeker pointed out that these types of warnings have in the past often been misguided, and investors and even professional analysts often misinterpret their impact on Apple's earnings.

I will not dismiss the threat from Amazon and Google, but I have accounted for this in my valuation model for Apple, including potential lower average selling prices for the iPad and iPhone.

And what if Apple remains ... Apple? What if booming international sales help Apple sell many more iPhone 4S units than analysts are currently expecting? What if Apple continues to innovate and launches a blockbuster new Apple TV sometime next year? What if Tim Cook turns out to be an excellent CEO and superbly executes the long-term strategic plan that he and Steve Jobs put in place? Could Apple -- dare I say it -- continue to outperform?

I believe the answer is yes. And I'm ready to put real money behind that statement. In addition to being the largest holding in my personal portfolio, Appl.e is also my first recommendation and a core holding in my Motley Fool Tier 1 Investments Rising Star Portfolio. And on the next business day after this article is published, Tier 1 Investments will be adding to its Apple position.

If you're interested in hearing about three under-the-radar companies quietly cashing in on the booming smartphone and tablet PC markets, you can check out The Motley Fool's latest special free report: "3 Hidden Winners of the iPhone, iPad, and Android Revolution." The report is yours today, absolutely free.

Joe Tenebruso manages a real-money Rising Star Portfolio for The Motley Fool and is an analyst on The Motley Fool's Million Dollar Portfolio and Income Investor premium services. Joe has written puts on Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Microsoft, Amazon.com, Apple, and Google and creating bull call spread positions in Microsoft and Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (29) | Recommend This Article (35)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2011, at 7:20 PM, jmy663 wrote:

    Most Tech companies are having problems today. Apple is still a stellar company with great cash reserves, effective leadership, and strong brand reorganization. It is a stock that I am proud to have in my portfolio.

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2011, at 7:36 PM, brerbear60 wrote:

    Apple is an arrogant company that has gotten away with horrid customer service by conceited sales people and non-upgradable, non-repairable products because of their cache of being the "thing to have."

    Yes, they have been ground-breakingly innovative in the past, but can they maintain that? I think not. Today's must have latest thing quickly becomes a big yawn.

    I will not revel over their demise, but I will not mourn it either. I predict they will be trading at about the level of Microsoft within the next 3 years.

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2011, at 8:00 PM, gigabob635 wrote:

    Apple is suffering the same death as the PC and Mainframe. Your headline is ridiculous. I am waiting to read your story asking "Is Obama Not Reforming Wall Street due to a Pending Asteroid Strike?". While you note that Apple's closed system leaves them a target from Microsoft in the middle and Android from all directions, you devalue the consistent user experieince that Apple has mastered. Couple this with iCloud to enhance that experience across all Apple devices and you have a scenario that Intel and others are seeking to duplicate with Ultrabooks, netbooks etc - but remain 3-5 years behind what Apple is delivering now. And for all the competitors out there - don't forget that huge established market of enterprise laptops that heretofore belonged to Dell, HP and Lenovo - yet is rapidly turning to Apple.

    The foundation for the future is laid with the current device portfolio. The really hard part is linking them with a common, consistent and useful experience. Apple is well on their way to delivering this experienceand the complexity of their task is much less in a closed system than the open environments with legacy systems that both Microsoft and Google must accomodate.

    Color me not worried - but if anyone wants to sell me their Apple stock for $200 per share - I will buy all you will sell....

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2011, at 8:33 PM, SimchaStein wrote:

    Thanks for refuting the FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt).

    AAPL grew the China biz 4X yr/yr last quarter. With the 4S plus expanded channel, expect more growth in China, regardless of the EURO issues. Longer term look to Brazil. Sure Amazon will take some biz, but their main impact will expanding the low-end, and choking the margin for other Android tablets. The Macs are still outgrowing PC sales, especially in Enterprise sales - an emerging market for Apple at least in the US.

    Finally, AAPL has bounced back from many a dip in the last 10 years. Fundamentals win in the end.

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2011, at 9:50 PM, techy46 wrote:

    Apple's responding to economic. market, sector and competiive cycles and indluences as are all stocks. Apple, being number 1 in consumer mobile electronics is going to fall and rise as they correlate with these influences.l

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2011, at 10:19 PM, PSU69 wrote:

    My Samsung Galaxy (Droid) tab cost $199 and it is amazing. I gave back my iPhone4 because it dropped so many calls. GOOG is doing music. I rarely take a laptop with me any more. Sold my APPL.

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2011, at 10:20 PM, bknees wrote:

    ipod

    then iphone

    then ipad

    now icloud

    and another game-changer:

    Siri

    20 million Kindle next year?

    Doubt it! ipad 3 release soon means ipad & ipad 2 price cuts,

    so why buy a Kindle when I can get an ipad for a little bit more in 30+ days? ($399 by xmas after release of ipad 3 w/Siri & greater resolution)

    apple...always a step or two ahead

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2011, at 10:56 PM, didihala11 wrote:

    TO: Joe Tenebruso

    With all due respect, don't you think comparing iPad with Kindle Fire is like comparing apples with oranges? I can't believe Motley Fool allowed this to be posted!! I have anything against Kindle but you're claim that Kindle Fire is a credible threat is extremely poor judgement, why? Because the $200 "price" of Kindle Fire, which you seem to say is a threat, has hardly any features of the iPad, not even close. The more expensive Kindle could be in the same class as iPad though. Of course it is "well priced below the iPad" Well, duh!! Is a Toyota well priced a BMW?!!

    Please learn about the two products well enough to be able to make a viable comparison. Here is what you said below. I read it a several times and every time I read it, I get the impression that you have something against Apple and that has made you look like a "Fool"! Congrats! :)

    "More credible threats such as competition from Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) and its recently launched Kindle Fire are also causing some Apple investors to get jittery. At $199, the Kindle Fire is priced well below the iPad and no doubt will take some share from Apple in the tablet market. We could even end up with an iPad price cut."

  • Report this Comment On November 18, 2011, at 12:04 AM, kbear2 wrote:

    Your article title is obviously meant to attract hits and I bit.

    Comparing the Fire to the iPad is valid only in the sense that the public may perceive the two as competitors. That will change as more information is revealed as to what is lacking in the Fire.

    Yes, Apple may lose some sales of the iPad to the Fire since there are always people looking foolishly for a bargain price and ignoring the ultimate return on investment. But eventually many will realize they shortchanged themselves and their next purchase will be an iPad. This was what happened with the iPod when it first came on the market.

    At least you "redeemed" yourself by acknowledging that Apple has too much going for it to implode. I bought my first shares in 1997 and am smiling broadly today.

  • Report this Comment On November 18, 2011, at 1:28 AM, Clint35 wrote:

    Ok, so Apple missed estimates according to what analysts were predicting. Who cares! Analysts are frequently wrong. Where do they get their numbers anyway? Do they get insider information from elves around Christmas time? If a company beats estimates, which Apple has many times, all the analysts and money managers cheer, "Yea we were wrong. They beat us." But then when they don't meet some bogus expectations those same guys yell, "The sky is falling! Sell sell sell!" That doesn't prove Apple is in trouble.

  • Report this Comment On November 18, 2011, at 1:36 AM, police12345 wrote:

    I suspect that the EU is about to come apart. Printing more bail out money will not do anything but bring greater inflation with no increase in productivity from the socialist societies. For there to be incentives for greeater production and drastict reduction in entitlements the EU will have reconfigure or break apart. In the end sales of AAPL and many other products in Europe will tank.

  • Report this Comment On November 18, 2011, at 8:10 AM, shortmanfl wrote:

    Joe

    You must have shorted Apple. Apple sells the dominant smartphone and tablet in the WORLD. If only the world had less analysts and more productive workers. I always wondered why anal were the first four letters in analyst.

  • Report this Comment On November 18, 2011, at 8:33 AM, Chemsoldier88 wrote:

    ^ he's been wanting to say that for years. Congrats, you finally had your chance!

    I can see both sides of whether or not one could compare the Fire to the iPad, but I really don't think it matters. It's a threat. If someone is considering an iPad, but the price is just a little too high, they will go for the Fire. More and more viable options (finally) are coming to the rival the iPad. Apple makes great products, no one denies that, but people have to realize Apple is not a religion and Steve Jobs was not a god (albeit he changed the world, no denying that). Quit being so one sided. When you read something you don't like, doesn't mean it isn't viable or true. Think about it, it will be better for your portfolio.

  • Report this Comment On November 18, 2011, at 10:20 AM, Morgana wrote:

    You are probably right. Apple is on the verge of collapse. They have no money. No brains. No inspiration. No culture of innovation. No devoted customers. Any second now. Pffffft.

  • Report this Comment On November 18, 2011, at 11:48 AM, jargonsays wrote:

    With AAPL P/E ratio at around 13.7, some 70 billion is cash, stellar international growth, the most efficinet retail business on the planet, free media marketing and lofty consumer satisfaction surveys, Apple is doing great right?. Oh wait, that is actually evidence of a bubble? If Apple is a bubble, what was the mortgage industry 4 years ago?

  • Report this Comment On November 18, 2011, at 11:54 AM, jargonsays wrote:

    I've owned Apple for several years and I don't have indigestion and never have. I wish I owned more. The risk of long term retrenchment is lower than ever. Smartphone penetration has really stabilized income in an otherwise tough environment. Things were much scarier when the ipod was the "thing" and Apple computers were a slow growing US niche market.

  • Report this Comment On November 18, 2011, at 12:10 PM, TMFBabo wrote:

    I see some people did not read to the end.

  • Report this Comment On November 18, 2011, at 12:23 PM, TMFGuardian wrote:

    Hello everyone and thanks for the comments!

    It seems like there is a little confusion with regards to this article so I thought I would try to clarify my position on Apple. Apple is a Buy recommendation in my Motley Fool Rising Stars portfolio, and I consider it a core holding. I also have a bullish option position (written puts) on Apple in my personal portfolio. And in the last paragraph of this article, I wrote that I was adding to my Apple position in my Tier 1 Investments RS portfolio.

    I wrote the headline because much of the recent news about Apple has been negative, and I wanted to offer my views on why I believe many of the fears currently surrounding Apple are overblown.

    Within this article, I included links to several of my other articles about Apple that contain more detailed analysis of why I believe Apple is worth much more than where its shares are currently trading. And you can always check out my Rising Stars page to see all of my articles on Apple.

    Sorry for the confusion and thanks again for the comments!

    --Joe

  • Report this Comment On November 18, 2011, at 1:18 PM, smartin619 wrote:

    Last quarter iPhone 4 was the best seeling phone in the US. iPhone 3GS was number 2.

    http://www.npdgroup.com/wps/portal/npd/us/news/pressreleases...

    Apple makes more profit than all the other handsets combined.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/canaccordgenuity/2011/11/04/appl...

  • Report this Comment On November 18, 2011, at 3:28 PM, RoostKing wrote:

    New investor here, but I do have experience(or remember history) when it comes to Apple. Remember, they were flying high in the 80's until Steve Jobs left. Then the co. fell apart. He came back and brought his vision with him, thus Apple is what it is today. Steve Jobs is gone for good this time. The company didnt have what it took to last previously when he left, who is the visionary to take over for him this time, that they didn't have last time?

    I think no one..

  • Report this Comment On November 18, 2011, at 5:03 PM, racchole wrote:

    I re-iterate my post from other AAPL-related articles:

    When will the Motley Fool close the comments section on AAPL-related articles? Three out of four posts on any AAPL article is some random gadget-hobbyist touting the superiority of AAPL. 3 out of 4 posts provide no insight into any stock-related point or analysis. Just close the comments and let the smart readers take what they will from the article, and leave the sheep to keep forking over their money for unncessary consumer products.

  • Report this Comment On November 18, 2011, at 7:04 PM, NinjaHamster wrote:

    "much of these fears are" ?

    "MOST of these fears are" or "much of this fear is".

  • Report this Comment On November 18, 2011, at 7:09 PM, NinjaHamster wrote:

    Who are "aapl.e". Is this Apple's new stock symbol ?

  • Report this Comment On November 25, 2011, at 11:34 AM, LevonTostig wrote:

    GM was on the verge of collapse (and it should have).

    Apple is no GM.

  • Report this Comment On November 25, 2011, at 2:36 PM, alan0101 wrote:

    You should changevyr name from M Fool enduring cretins, im fed up with yr silly headlines, and I am done with you

    Chau estupidos

  • Report this Comment On November 25, 2011, at 3:01 PM, DJDynamicNC wrote:

    Some good advice for science writers that I think applies equally well to tech bloggers: "If the question posed by your headline can be answered with the word "No," don't bother writing the article."

    Credit to XKCD for that gem.

    Don't take it too hard, it's not a bad article, I just think the author's efforts could have been better expended on a different topic.

  • Report this Comment On November 26, 2011, at 5:14 AM, bordereiver wrote:

    Apple is still my largest holding, and will likely remain that. On the other hand my Google holdings are in my top 10 so I have plenty of respect for Google and Android. Also own MSFT, but no longer in my top 10. Also hold significant stakes in QLIK and RAX so hope those rule breakers break rules.

  • Report this Comment On November 26, 2011, at 7:27 AM, isaquejr wrote:

    I'm sick of this apple fanaticism. Apple, will go down, now or later, like microsoft and sony (remember thinking that Sony would never be outmatched in TV sets back in the 90's? or thinking that Bill Gates was invincible?) Apple doesn't offer stuff as basilar as those companies, back in those days. It takes an existing idea and gives it a lip-color, just that. The rest is brain-dead zombie fans that think their IQ will increase if surrounded by apple stuff. But guess what? your a minority. In general, consumers are smart, and if you have a similar thing (if not better) by half the price, they will buy it. I'll be laughing hard when the next failed earnings plunge the stock down to the ocean floor.

  • Report this Comment On November 26, 2011, at 5:05 PM, lowmaple wrote:

    Well one poster won't like that the comment section is even longer but the article is valid since even one all in apple analyst was a little worried about apple. The corporate personnel may be different from before Jobs return and apple is not netflix. Many people may be falling for the 'most recent memory bias'

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