LONDON -- There are things to love and loathe about most companies. Today, I'm going to tell you about three things to love about U.S. tech titan Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL).
I'll also be asking whether these positive factors make Apple a good investment today.
Until recently, all I wanted from a computer was for it to function well enough to browse the web, put a bit of data in a spreadsheet, and type out articles like this one. Computers were little more than a commodity as far as I was concerned.
However, with the idea of being able to work on the hoof, I decided to check out a few laptops. When I tried Apple's MacBook Pro, I was instantly in love. Today, you may even find me with my MacBook sitting in a Starbucks wearing a lightweight roll-neck sweater -- just an iPhone short of a stereotype.
I reckon if Apple can seduce me, it can seduce just about anyone. It's a great thing to be a shareholder in a company that inspires fantastic brand loyalty in its customers.
An abundance of cash
Apple has an enormous hoard of cash and marketable securities. This has grown from $25 billion to $137 billion in five years. Yes, you read that right, $137 billion. Put another way, Apple's cash pile is around a third of the company's market capitalization.
Such a huge amount of excess cash is quite remarkable and shareholders have already started to see some of it finding its way into their pockets. Apple announced a first dividend in 17 years with its Q3 results for its fiscal year 2012. The $2.65-a-share dividend was repeated in Q4 and again in Q1 of the current year. Regular cash dividends are now firmly established.
At a recent share price of $457, Apple is on a trailing 12-month P/E ratio of 10.4. Adjust for the cash pile and the P/E falls to just 7. Meanwhile, if the company declares a fourth $2.65 dividend with its Q2 results, the yield is 2.3% with plenty of scope for growth.
Apple is out of vogue with investors at the moment, and out-of vogue shares can often make good long-term investments. If I were in the market for a tech-sector titan, Apple would certainly be on my list of shares to consider.
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