Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) isn't the same company that it was five years ago. For one, it no longer looks to its iPhone device sales as the main driver of its future. Some investors have taken Apple's strategy shift toward services and other revenue streams as a problem for the company, but that couldn't be further from the truth.
For investors who are skeptical about Apple's strength as a long-term investment, let's take a look at three reasons why they should consider adding Apple stock to their portfolio and holding onto it for the long haul.
1. Apple will weather the current (and future) economic storms just fine
Billionaire and famed investor Warren Buffett has said that Apple is "probably the best business I know in the world." What makes Apple stand out?
First, consider how much cash the company has. At the end of the second quarter, Apple had $193 billion in cash on hand. That cash will not only help it continue to make its dividend payments long into the future (and raise them), but it also gives Apple a massive advantage over other technology players.
The company has been able to pour its huge amount of cash into things like producing content to help grow subscribers for its Apple TV+ service and buying smaller companies to help keep its innovative edge.
Not only does cash help Apple continue to expand its business in new ways, but it's also a massive advantage over smaller technology companies when it comes to riding out the current economic climate we're in. While others may be reeling from COVID-19's effect on their top and bottom lines, Apple can ride out this recession better than most. The Mac maker won't emerge unscathed, but it will be able to handle the financial pressure better because of its strong cash position.
2. Devices and services are still a winning combination
Apple may no longer report how many iPhones it sells in a quarter, but that doesn't mean the device isn't integral to its long-term business strategy. iPhones are one of the best ways for consumers to tap into Apple's growing ecosystem, and the device still helps bring in massive revenue.
Consider that the tech titan's services revenue -- which includes Apple TV+, Apple Music, Apple News+, etc. -- grew 16.6% in the first quarter to $13.3 billion. That revenue mainly comes from users signing up from their iPhones to tap into these services. With nearly 1 billion active iPhones estimated to be used around the world, Apple's opportunity to offer its users new services is unmatched.
And it doesn't end with services. Apple's wearable tech is one of the company's fastest-growing revenue segments, increasing 22.5% year over year in the most recent quarter. AirPods are one of the best-selling wireless earbuds on the market and its Apple Watch is the top-selling smartwatch. These devices are, in a sense, an extension of iPhones.
There's evidence, too, that Apple could experience a sales boom when the company launches a 5G-enabled iPhone. 5G will bring even faster and more reliable cellular connectivity, and the new tech is expected to spur what's called an upgrade "supercycle" of iPhone users trading in their current devices for 5G-enabled versions. CCS Insights estimated that 5G devices will account for 58% of smartphone sales in 2024.
Even though Apple's iPhone isn't in its heyday anymore, the company's opportunity to benefit from it with services, wearables, and 5G are still very significant.
3. Apple isn't finished innovating
There's no way of knowing what Apple's next big tech device will be, but there's growing evidence that the company is exploring augmented reality (AR) glasses, potentially called Apple Glasses. Apple has been very focused on AR over the past few years and has integrated the technology more and more into its devices and apps. Creating a specific device that focuses on AR would play well into Apple's current focus.
Apple could release Glasses at the earliest some time next year, but no one knows for sure. Gene Munster, a former notable Apple analyst and co-founder of Loup Ventures, said recently that, "Apple's track record with wearables, dating back to the EarPods, gives us confidence that Apple will lead the way in the augmented reality glasses category as it emerges over the next few years." Apple Glasses, which could retail for around $499, would likely provide a massive boost to its device sales, and could also help bring more services opportunities through AR-related apps.
Of course, Apple Glasses is only a rumor right now. But the point here is that investors shouldn't think that Apple is done creating new products or services for its users. Sure, it may move slower than smaller tech companies. But Apple has always moved at its own pace when it comes to releasing new products and services -- and they're almost always worth the wait.
If it's good enough for Buffett...
With the current recession well underway, many investors are looking for places to put their money that have great long-term potential, but that are also relatively safe. Apple's massive cash hoard, its unparalleled user base, its long list of best-selling products, and its commitment to shareholders make this business a no-brainer buy for many investors.
Sure, the company will experience share price swings like any other stock, but over the long haul, Apple will be able to ride out these uncertain times and still keep its eye on long-term growth. I agree with Buffett: You'd be hard-pressed to find a better business anywhere.