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Apple Stock Is Destroying My Portfolio -- Is It Time to Sell?

By Tim Beyers - Apr 21, 2013 at 12:45PM

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A Fool bets real money in a three-year tussle with Mr. Market.

Each week, I endeavor to report the results of the Big Idea Portfolio, a collection of five tech stocks that I believe will crush the market over a three-year period. I've done it before; my last tussle with Mr. Market ended with me beating the index's average return by 13.35%.

Real money was on the line then as it is now, which means any one of the five stocks you see below could cause me a lot of public embarrassment. But it's Apple (AAPL 2.54%) stock that has done the most damage, ending down yet another 9% this past week after iPhone parts supplier Cirrus Logic reported poor quarterly results.

Both stocks hit fresh lows after Cirrus announced more than $23 million in inventory reserves, $20 million of which are related to a "decreased forecast" for a high volume product. All signs point to the iPhone. Or, more specifically, the iPhone 5. Thanks to increased competition from Samsung, Apple's newest handset isn't winning over customers as much as prior versions did.

Only Google (GOOGL 1.77%) impressed. The search king cake in ahead well ahead of first-quarter earnings estimates thanks to a favorable tax rate. Revenue in the core search business rose 22% after traffic acquisition costs. CEO Larry Page also recommitted to expanding his company's footprint well beyond search.

"Companies tend to get comfortable doing what they have always done with a few minor tweaks," Page said in a conference call with analysts. "It's only natural to want to work on the things you know. But incremental improvement is guaranteed to be obsolete over time." 

Tellingly, the comments came just a day after Google announced plans to expand its gigabit fiber optic network to Provo, Utah. Expect more such moves in the coming quarters. All signs suggest that Google will grow into a service provider that uses software, algorithms, infrastructure, and devices to bring us data, apps, and entertainment on-demand, instantly, wherever we may be.

What's the Big Idea this week?
Overall, this marks my portfolio's fifth consecutive loss to Mr. Market. A sharp decline in Apple stock, combined with pullbacks in shares of Rackspace Hosting and salesforce.com, set me back another 205 basis points in our three-year tussle to see who can do better for investors. All four indexes also fell.

This time, the Russell 2000 led the laggards with a 3.22% plunge, followed by the Nasdaq's 2.69% drop, the Dow's 2.14% decline, and the S&P 500's 2.11% dip, according to data supplied by The Wall Street Journal. Here's a closer look at where I stood through Friday's close:
 
Company
Starting Price*
Recent Price
Total Return

Apple

$416.26**

$390.53

(6.2%)

Google

$650.09

$799.87

23%

Rackspace Hosting

$41.65

$45.05

8.2%

Riverbed Technology

$25.95

$14.21

(45.2%)

Salesforce

$25.26**

$40.88

61.8%

AVERAGE RETURN

--

--

8.32%

S&P 500 SPDR

$124.39**

$155.48

24.99%

DIFFERENCE

--

--

(16.67%)

Source: Yahoo! Finance.
* Tracking began at market close on Jan. 6, 2012.
** Adjusted for dividends, splits, and other returns of capital.

Notable newsmakers
Among the other tech stocks making news last week:

  • Yahoo! (NASDAQ: YHOO) kicked off tech earnings week by reporting better-than-expected results, though revenue fell 7% year over year. Display ad revenue, long a source of strength for the business, fell 11%. The good news? Yahoo! says there are now 300 million active mobile users of its apps, a 50% improvement from December.

  • Microsoft (MSFT 2.03%) lifted the Dow on an earnings beat, overcoming disappointing results from the index's top blue chip, IBM (IBM 2.47%). Revenue grew 18%, in line with expectations, while similar profit gains tracked ahead of estimates. Mr. Softy's $0.72  a share of fiscal Q3 earnings beat the consensus by $0.04.

  • On Thursday, Salesforce officially split 4-for-1 and then promptly fell 4%. Investors were apparently looking for an excuse to cash out some of their holdings and waited till the split to do so.

  • Finally, mark your calendars: Apple reports earnings after the bell on Tuesday. Here's what to watch for.

What else caught your eye in the tech world last week? Do you believe Apple stock will rally on surprisingly strong earnings? Let us know what you think in the comments box below.

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Stocks Mentioned

Apple Inc. Stock Quote
Apple Inc.
AAPL
$149.24 (2.54%) $3.70
International Business Machines Corporation Stock Quote
International Business Machines Corporation
IBM
$138.37 (2.47%) $3.34
Microsoft Corporation Stock Quote
Microsoft Corporation
MSFT
$266.82 (2.03%) $5.32
Alphabet Inc. Stock Quote
Alphabet Inc.
GOOGL
$2,329.46 (1.77%) $40.56

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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