Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is a widely followed company, and both investors and Wall Street analysts are always trying to scrutinize the company and its products down to the last detail. However, it can sometimes be a good idea to take a look at the big picture and focus on the main bull or bear arguments for a particular company. In that spirit, here are the five main reasons I believe Apple stock is a great purchase right now.
1. Undisputed brand power
According to multiple sources, Apple is the top brand in the world. Different publications and rankings such as Forbes, Interbrand, and Brand Value consider Apple the most valuable brand on the planet. These kinds of rankings are always subjective to some degree, however, it's hard to argue against the idea that the Apple brand is major source of competitive advantage for the company.
Brand differentiation allows the company to charge premium prices and protect its profits from the competition, and it's also a crucial advantage when introducing new products to consumers. Competitive strength is arguably one of the most important factors to consider when making investment decisions for the long term, and Apple comes second to none in that area.
2. Impressive financial performance
Building on that, the company knows how to translate its competitive strength into superior financial performance for investors. Revenue during the quarter ended in June grew 33% to a staggering $49.6 billion. Earnings per share did even better, jumping by 45% versus the same quarter in 2014.
It makes sense to assume that growth will slow down in the middle term now that the business has reached such a gargantuan scale. However, even if there is a considerable deceleration, chances are that both sales and earnings will keep moving in the right direction at a nice rate.
3. Rock-solid balance sheet
Apple ended the last quarter with $202.8 billion in cash and marketable securities. Even after deducting nearly $50 billion in debt, this still leaves the company with a massive net cash position of more than $150 billion. Besides, the business brought in $67.8 billion in operating cash flow during the nine-month period ended in June.
These enormous cash reserves provide a formidable war chest for Apple, allowing the company to make all kinds of investments and acquisitions to protect and grow its business. In addition, the company is returning tons of money to investors via dividends and buybacks -- Apple distributed over $13 billion to shareholders in the last quarter alone. The stock's dividend yield currently sits below 2%.
4. Abundant growth prospects
The iPhone is the main driver for Apple, and the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models are selling like hotcakes. Apple registered a 35% increase in units sales and a 59% jump in segment revenue in the iPhone division last quarter.
The company has recently launched new products and services such as Apple Watch, Apple Pay, and Apple Music. While these new ventures will probably have a discrete financial impact over the coming quarters, their long-term potential is quite intriguing when considering Apple's brand value and track record of success.
Geographically, emerging markets in general and China in particular seem to offer enormous room for growth thanks to avid demand for Apple products in these markets. Total sales in China grew 118% in the last quarter, and revenue in emerging markets increased 79% to nearly $18 billion, accounting for a considerable 35% of total company revenue.
5. Attractive valuation
All of this comes for a very reasonable price: Apple stock trades at a P/E ratio below 13. That's a huge discount compared to companies in the S&P 500 and their average average P/E ratio of around 18.
Investors are arguably concerned about the possibility of slowing growth as the smartphone industry matures. Meanwhile, China is a big market for Apple, and recent weakness in the Chinese economy is an additional source of negativity.
Regardless of the rationale behind this valuation, or the lack of thereof, the fact remains that the current entry price looks quite attractive for investors. At these levels, Apple offers far more upside potential than downside risk.