Long Apple, Short BlackBerry

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

The Fed's "non-taper" is last week's news -- at least until the topic resurfaces during the run-up to the next Federal Open Market Committee meeting at the end of next month. It's time for markets to focus on other items, and there are plenty ready to take the baton. Here's one: Consider that Congress must now pass a "continuing resolution" before midnight next Monday in order to renew the budget for the next fiscal year at this year's level (fiscal 2014 begins on Oct. 1.).

That concern could be affecting sentiment this morning, with the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) and the narrower, price-weighted Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) down 0.4% and down 0.15%, respectively, as of 10:05 a.m. EDT.

Long Apple, Short BlackBerry
The market is a fickle beast. Less than two weeks ago, it punished Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) for its pricing strategy on the newly announced iPhone 5c and 5s, saying the cost is too high for many consumers in key markets including China and India.

However, this morning investors are cheering the sales figures the company announced for the launch weekend. Topping analyst estimates, 9 million units were sold, with the initial supply of the higher-end 5s model selling out. Those numbers prompted the company to say it expects fourth-quarter revenue to come in at the high end of its range of $34 billion to $37 billion. Shares of Apple are up 3.7% on the news.

Perhaps there is something to Carl Icahn's argument that Apple's shares are cheap and that investors shouldn't overanalyze or criticize business decisions that are best left to the company's management. Or, as he put it, in characteristically blunt fashion: "Don't micromanage. ... I would be the most presumptuous person in the world to sit there and tell them they shouldn't price it this way."

Meanwhile, Reuters and The Wall Street Journal put together a trove of anecdotal and statistical data to support the argument I advanced on Friday for avoiding BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY  ) shares, according to which, if the company has given up on the consumer market, there is little reason to believe it will be able to protect, let alone grow, its franchise among business users. Here's a striking statistic the WSJ came up with:

Just three years ago, BlackBerry had a market share of nearly 70% among business customers in North America, according to the research firm IDC. This year, that figure has dropped to around 5%, IDC says.

Incidentally, an alternative trade to going long Apple and shorting BlackBerry would be to replace the latter with Pandora, as Apple also announced that its iRadio service had already attracted 11 million subscribers. Pandora shares are down 7.8%.

BlackBerry Is Out. Who will remain standing?
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