Dear Apple Stock, You've Changed...

Dear Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) stock,

We first met a long time ago. At first, I was hesitant to buy you. I was relatively new to investing, and you were on a roll. I wasn't sure I could handle such a hot commodity. But eventually, in January of 2010, you won me over, and I bought in at $200 per share.

Since 2001, Apple stock, you've produced wonders galore. It was like you were a master at planning surprise parties—and each one was better than the next.

First there was the iPod: 1,000 songs in your pocket -- genius! Then there was the iPhone -- which will surely be the product that historians point to when trying to capture the role of technology in the early 21st century. And then, the real surprise masterpiece: the iPad. Some "professionals" said this would be a failure, but its pretty clear you've proven them wrong.

I mean, just look at what the past decade has been like:

Source: Apple 

Man, 2007 to the end of 2011 -- those were the years, weren't they? Your value went from $84 per share, all the way up to $405. You literally grew like a teenager on steroids, Apple stock: up almost 400%!

Do you still have it?
If we take a closer look at those last couple of years, though, I've got to wonder if you're losing some of your steam. Sure, Siri was cool, but beyond that, there really hasn't been anything earth-shattering since the iPad came out. That was over three years ago! I guess that all teenagers do end their growth spurts at some time.

There's even proof that you're stooping to levels where you're willing to sell yourself for less. The iPad Mini is really just an attempt to compete on price with Amazon's  Kindle Fire. And, let's be honest: Amazon's always been the crafty nerd with patience of a saint, willing to forgo profit for years before realizing it.

So, where's the pizazz that captured me, Apple? Where's the next megahit? Will it be an iTV? An iWatch? There's lots of talk, but I haven't really seen any substance lately. I understand that losing Steve Jobs, your role model and leader, was heartbreaking. It was for everyone. But your recent performance leads me to wonder:

Is it time for us to break up?
Here's where I've been caught for a while: to stick it out, or to part ways? On the one hand, Apple, you aren't the same company or stock that I fell in love with. (Although everyone knows we shouldn't fall in love with stocks, I just couldn't help myself.) On the other, as you've matured, there's something to be said for what you're becoming.

No, you won't be the exciting, skyrocketing stock of your youth, but there's a good chance you'll provide the type of stability I'll look for as I get closer to retirement.

You've got an ecosystem that's the envy of the world.

After I bought my first iPod, I was hooked. Now, my wife and I own six different Apple products. And the switching costs are high -- we've got lots stored on the iCloud, and we love how simple it is to sync all of our gadgets.

Then there's all that cash you've collected, and your dividend that could easily go higher for years to come.

And finally, there's your price: trading for just 10 times expected earnings in 2013. I think the market has already priced my above concerns into your market value. There's little downside, and lots of stability that you provide.

Who knows ... I could be wrong. Maybe you're next "must-have" product is right around the corner. Maybe Jobs left a little (or a lot) of magic in Cupertino that I just can't see. Either way, if that turns out to be the case, it'll just be icing on the cake.

So, I'm sticking with you, Apple stock -- for at least another year. You'll remain in my retirement portfolio, and I'm even considering buying more of you for my Roth IRA this month.

Is Apple right for you?
If you, Foolish investor, are on the fence about what to do with Apple's stock, we've got something to help you out. The Motley Fool's senior technology analyst and managing bureau chief, Eric Bleeker, is prepared to fill you in on reasons to buy and reasons to sell Apple, and what opportunities are left for the company (and your portfolio) going forward. To get instant access to his latest thinking on Apple, simply click here now.


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