Apple (AAPL -0.34%) has been trading at a low multiple relative to its peers for years.
In this clip from Industry Focus: Tech, Motley Fool analysts John Rotonti and Dylan Lewis talk about a few of the biggest reasons the tech company is so appealing to value investors -- from its impressive customer base to huge potential markets and more. Also, the hosts look at a few of the most pressing concerns the company is facing and how they're likely to pan out.
A transcript follows the video.
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This podcast was recorded on July 1, 2016.
John Rotonti: I think it trades at the low multiple that you mentioned because maybe a lot of investors think of it as a hardware company. And I just mentioned that two-thirds of its revenue come from the iPhone. But, it has got four fantastic software platforms that users love. It has one for the iPhone and iPad, one for Macs, one for the TV, and one for the Watch. So it has definitely got a great accompanying software portfolio there. Then, the cool thing is, it has got these continuity functions. The iOS software can talk to Mac software, so you can start an email on your iPad and finish it on your Mac, and do lots of other continuity functions, which I think is so cool. It has a growing stream of high-margin recurring services revenue. It is rapidly growing its enterprise business through partnerships with IBM, SAP, and Cisco.
I think the question becomes: Does the iPhone lose its pricing power and just become a commodity? And I think, if we think about the iPhone or any other Apple device as the admission ticket into the Apple ecosystem, then the company will be able to maintain its pricing power. There's no other way to access the over 1 million apps in the, App Store, iTunes, Apple TV, Apple Pay or iCloud HomeKit, HealthKit, CarPlay. You just can't access that without an Apple device. So if people want access into that ecosystem, they have to pay a price. So, I think they're going to be able to maintain that pricing power.
And then, Apple has amazingly loyal customers. It has an installed base of over 1 billion devices around the world. If you think about that for a second, it has nearly as many Apple devices out there as there are Facebook accounts, yet Apple devices cost hundreds of dollars. Another sign of that loyalty is Apple's customer retention ratio in the 85%-90% range. Then, you start looking at the numbers. I mentioned it has high returns on capital and free cash flows. It has got $150 billion in net cash. It will have returned $200 billion to investors by early next year through dividends and buybacks. Then, that cash position, that balance sheet, it provides it with a lot of optionality. I mean, I'm not smart enough to know what Apple is going to do next, but with $150 billion, I bet it's going to be pretty cool. At least, that's a bet I'm making. Are they going to get the Watch to really catch on? Is the TV going to catch on? Is the Apple Car going to catch on? Are they going to buy Tesla? I don't know, but they have a lot of firepower to do it.
Dylan Lewis: And to point to another potential growth driver, penetration in emerging markets is still pretty low, and the infrastructure to support smartphones in the hands of every consumer in a lot of those emerging markets, your Chinas and your Indias, are still very low. So there could be a huge ramp there.
I will say, John, I'm with you on Apple. I'm a shareholder. Even if they don't meaningfully grow the business, and manage more to just hold a steady state, you're enjoying a dividend yield of over 2%. They've upped their quarterly dividend recently, 10%. That's the fourth time in four years they've done that, and I think that's just going to continue. And lastly, they have a huge share buyback authorization, and they've executed very well and done a lot to return value to shareholders. I think you have to be happy about all that.
Rotonti: I couldn't have said it better myself, Dylan. Thank you! And like I said, they're going to return $200 billion by early next year. When you're buying back shares at 10% free cash flow yield, that's compared to the risk-free rate, which I read this morning, actually, is at an all-time record. The 10-year U.S. Treasury bond is at 1.4%. So, you compare a 10% yield to that, or, even if you compare it to the free cash flow yield on the S&P 500, which is about 5% right now, I'll take my chances there.