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:


Trailing P/E

Expected 5-Year Growth Rate

DreamWorks Animation (NYSE:DWA)



Pfizer (NYSE:PFE)



Affiliated Computer Services (NYSE:ACS)



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

Apple's peers don't do much better:


Trailing P/E

Expected 5-Year Growth Rate




Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ)



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.

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