Why Apple Stock Is a Buy in 3 Charts

Apple stock is a solid bet for the long haul. Consider the opportunity by looking at these three charts.

Jun 22, 2014 at 2:15PM

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock is up about 20% in the past three months. Zooming out a bit further, it's up about 55% in the past year. But this industry leader sill trades at a price-to-earnings ratio of just 15.3. Compare that to the S&P 500's P/E ratio of 19. Is the stock still a buy, even after the run-up?


Image source: Apple.

While I made the case a few weeks ago that Apple stock was worth $120, based on a conservative discounted cash flow analysis, probably one of the best ways to illustrate the stock's story is through charts. On that note, here are the three most relevant charts that show why the stock is a buy.

Apple's hot China market
The smartphone market is still growing rapidly. In 2013, for instance, global smartphone shipments hit 1 billion, up from 725 million in 2012, according to data from IDC. But one of the greatest opportunities for smartphone manufacturers is undoubtedly in China, the world's largest smartphone market.

And combining smartphones and tablets, the potential for smart devices in the country is simply monstrous.

Smartphone And Tablet Sales In China

Data for chart retrieved from Umeng's 2013 report on smartphones and tablets in China.

Of course Apple's smartphone and tablet businesses make up a whopping 74% of the company's total revenue, so the big growth in China in these two markets is especially encouraging for Apple investors.

But is Apple popular enough in the country to benefit from the opportunity? Absolutely. Chinese app analytics firm Umeng (via Benedict Evans) says that 27% of all smartphones sold in China in 2013 were in the $500-plus price range, and 80% of these devices were iPhones.

A conservative valuation
Almost any way you slice it, Apple stock is cheap. Even though analysts predict Apple earnings per share to grow at a rate of about 15% per year, on average, over the next five years, the stock even trades at a discount to other slow-growing cash cows in the tech sector, like Intel and Microsoft.

To illustrate, consider these three stocks, compared on price to free cash flow. The price to free cash flow metric is a useful metric to use because it levels the playing field -- especially for mature companies like these three tech giants.

AAPL Price to Free Cash Flow (TTM) Chart

AAPL Price to Free Cash Flow (TTM) data by YCharts

An aggressive share repurchase program
To help boost earnings in the coming years, Apple is putting its strong cash flow to work in repurchasing its own shares. Consider the difference Apple's repurchases have made so far.

AAPL Average Diluted Shares Outstanding (Quarterly) Chart

AAPL Average Diluted Shares Outstanding (Quarterly) data by YCharts

Fortunately, Apple looks poised to continue repurchasing shares over the long haul. The company announced in April that it had authorized a second significant increase to its share repurchase program, boosting it from $60 billion to $90 billion. Even more, Apple said it planned to utilize this cash by the same end date the program had when it was first announced: the end of calendar 2015.

With a huge opportunity in China, conservative valuation, and aggressive and shareholder-friendly share repurchase program, Apple stock is an excellent bet for long-term investors.

Leaked: Apple's next smart device (warning -- it may shock you)
Apple recently recruited a secret-development "dream team" to guarantee that its newest smart device was kept hidden from the public for as long as possible. But the secret is out, and some early viewers are even claiming that its everyday impact could trump the iPod, iPhone, and the iPad. In fact, ABI Research predicts that 485 million of these devices will be sold per year. But one small company makes this gadget possible. And its stock price has nearly unlimited room to run for early in-the-know investors. To be one of them, and to see Apple's newest smart gizmo, just click here!

Daniel Sparks owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Intel and owns shares of Apple, Intel, and Microsoft. 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.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.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.

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