Come Oct. 17, I will purchase shares of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL).

Why not sooner, or today, when a global sell-off has the iEmpire trading down by more than 4%? The Motley Fool's disclosure policy requires that I wait 10 days to buy stock in a company I've written about.

And yet the delay doesn't bother me. Barring an announcement from CEO Steve Jobs that the iEmpire has built a gold-smelting plant in outer Freedonia to hedge against exposure to the U.S. dollar and outfit a new limited-edition series of gold-plated MacBooks -- first customers: Donald Trump and Kanye West -- I expect the irrational selling to continue for weeks, perhaps months.

You call this Apple rotten?
Investors have a recent history of ignoring good news. Two of the more notable happenings from the past week:

1.    Copyright regulators handed Apple an important victory in its fight to keep iTunes tracks priced at $0.99 each.

2.    The rising Mac market share eats into Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) lead.

To be fair, analyst downgrades have investors skittish, but, if you're a long-termer like me, Apple's valuation has rarely looked better. Doing the math, Mr. Market valued the iEmpire's earnings power -- its market cap after subtracting cash on hand -- at just $74.69 per share, or 14.6 times trailing earnings, as of Monday's close.

For perspective, here's a look at companies that trade for similar multiples but lack Apple's extraordinary cash position:

Company

Trailing P/E

Expected 5-Year Growth Rate

DreamWorks Animation (NYSE:DWA)

13.04

9.92%

Pfizer (NYSE:PFE)

14.24

3.85%

Affiliated Computer Services (NYSE:ACS)

14.04

12.71%

Sources: Motley Fool CAPS, Yahoo! Finance as of Oct. 6, 2008.

Apple's peers don't do much better:

Company

Trailing P/E

Expected 5-Year Growth Rate

Dell (NASDAQ:DELL)

11.11

11.68%

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ)

12.69

12.8%

Sources: Motley Fool CAPS, Yahoo! Finance.

Let's complete the equation. After accounting for cash, Dell fetches 8.4 times earnings. Hewlett-Packard gets 12.1 times its per-share income. And Apple gets ... 14.6, a 21% premium to what HP commands? How is that fair?

Answer: It isn't. High growers deserve high multiples. Apple isn't getting one now, but I'm betting a portion of my retirement savings that, over the long haul, it will. Do you agree? Disagree? Use the comments box below to share your view.

For related Foolishness:

Fool contributor Tim Beyers watched the cone of silence descend over him as he wrote this article. An airtight disclosure policy will do that.

Tim hunts for the best of tech as a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers team. Here's how to try this market-beating service free for 30 days. Get access to all of Tim's Foolish writings here.

Apple and DreamWorks Animation are Stock Advisor selections. Dell, Pfizer, and Microsoft are Inside Value picks. Pfizer is also an Income Investor recommendation. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy likes Pfizer but doesn't need Viagra.