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Better Buy: Roku vs. Apple

By Anders Bylund – Updated May 22, 2020 at 8:17AM

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One of these companies is a great growth stock with a bright future. The other is headquartered in Cupertino.

Let's make this short and sweet, dear reader. Roku (ROKU -8.85%) is a strong buy right now. Apple (AAPL -5.02%) isn't.

I see Roku as one of the best buys on the market today; I added to my Roku position in my personal portfolio as recently as March 17. This is a skyrocketing growth stock on the rise, and the COVID-19 crisis will only help Roku accelerate its business growth -- streaming media platforms are a hot ticket right now. That's simply the start of a long-term wealth-building investment idea.

Apple is a very different story. Cupertino always struck me as a one-trick pony, and that single horse looks mighty tired these days. The one-two punch of coronavirus fallout and the simmering Chinese-American trade war will add up to a terrible year for Apple, and the company's best days may already be behind it. I've never owned a single share of Apple, and that's not changing any time soon.

One businessman runs on a green charting arrow pointed upward, and another stands still on a red arrow headed downward

Image source: Getty Images.

Not the Apple of my eye

You know Apple's single trick. iPhones and iPads accounted for 63% of Apple's total sales in the first half of fiscal year 2020. A large slice of the company's revenue from services also falls in this category, though Apple won't tell us exactly how much. Take away the iOS platform, and the company falls apart.

iPhone and iPad sales fell in the second quarter due to the economic stress and manufacturing infrastructure challenges that sprung from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, iPhone sales also plunged 14% lower in fiscal year 2019, long before the coronavirus reared its tragic head. Mobile computing has been a hot ticket over the last decade, but it gets harder and harder to whip up excitement around the next flagship iPhone these days. 5G networking might help for a while, but even that boost will be short-lived.

Ergo, the very foundation of Apple's financial platform is starting to crumble. Cupertino's trillion-dollar market cap looks fragile to me. And it's a long way down if and when the final descent starts.

Other Fools disagree, some of them passionately so. That's fine, and it's a core component of our "Motley" spirit. I'll change my mind when Apple comes up with a more diverse business plan. Until then, I'm not touching this stock with a 10-foot charging cable.

The winner, please

Let me reiterate how quickly Roku is growing up before our very eyes right now. The company is unprofitable, but only because Roku is investing every dime of spare cash into accelerated growth ideas. The set-top box maker has evolved into a software and service provider for several TV makers, and Roku is poised to wear that mantle for pretty much the entire consumer electronics industry within a few short years.

Yes, that's another one-trick pony. But this mare is young and healthy, and Roku's business prospects are skyrocketing. Revenue jumped 52% higher in fiscal year 2019, if you want to focus on the pre-COVID era again. Apple to apples, right?

And if the charts below are telling you to pick Apple's stock over Roku's, I'm afraid we'll disagree about pretty much everything when it comes to investing in growth stocks.

ROKU Chart

ROKU data by YCharts.

Anders Bylund owns shares of Roku. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple and Roku. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Apple Inc. Stock Quote
Apple Inc.
AAPL
$142.31 (-5.02%) $-7.53
Roku Stock Quote
Roku
ROKU
$55.70 (-8.85%) $-5.41

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