Over the last few weeks, we keep seeing articles and blog posts talking about how Apple (AAPL) is not cool anymore and how Apple has become a boring company. These were based on the argument that the competition's products were as good as Apple's products and that people didn't care about Apple's products anymore.
This argument mostly came from analysts who I call "trend followers." Basically, analysts are meant to "set trends" rather than follow them but we hardly ever see that happening. Usually, analysts will watch a stock and try to explain what happened to the company after it fell sharply or rose considerably.
For example, when Apple was rising from $400s to $700s rapidly, all the analysts were talking about how great Apple's products were, how the company had an amazing image and how it could easily see $1,000 per share. During that period, not one analyst was talking about Apple being boring or competition catching up on Apple.
Then Apple fell down to $400s and a lot of trend follower analysts started to wonder why it happened and they tried to come up with stories to justify Apple's fall. Then they started to tell people how Apple's products are not cool anymore and how Apple is getting boring. Of course, when Apple starts rallying again, the same analysts will be talking about why Apple is the coolest thing in earth right now because most analysts are trend followers rather than trend setters and their job is simply to tell people what happened "after the fact."
In this article, I will explain why Apple is still cool.
1- Last week Apple was named as the most admired company in the US. Apple was followed by Google and Amazon. In 2008, when people thought Ford was going out of business, Alan Mulally was able to mortgage Ford's blue oval logo for $24 billion dollars. If Ford's logo alone was worth $24 billion at the time the company was dying, imagine how much Apple's brand name must be worth at a time when the company is generating cash almost as easily as the Fed does. In a 2011 study, Apple's brand name was worth more than $150 billion. When people calculate a company's book value, they usually exclude the value of the brand name which can be very important.
2- Apple has one of the highest rates of customer loyalty in the world. Over 90% of Apple's iPhone users say that they will purchase another iPhone when they eventually replace their phone. In the following years, most of Apple's revenues will come from recurring customers. Not only Apple's customers come back for more iPhones, they are also more likely to spend money on content once they are in the iOS ecosystem.
3- iPad continues to steal market share from competition as well as the PC companies. I love when analysts talk about how companies like Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) and Dell (DELL) are seeing big drops in their revenues due to iPad sales, yet the same analysts also claim that Apple products aren't cool anymore. If iPad is hot enough to make significant damage in an industry as large as the PC industry, it has to be still cool with the customers.
4- Apple's market share in the US continues to increase. Basically, in the largest market for the smartphones in the world, whoever can afford an iPhone is buying an iPhone. Those who can't afford an iPhone usually opt for other phones. While Samsung competes closely with Apple in market share, Samsung has a large variety of phones that fit budgets of people from a variety of income levels whereas Apple only has one phone. In the high-end smartphone market, Apple is pretty much out of competition.
5- While I believe that the competition is catching up with Apple in terms of quality and usefulness of phones, they are still far from catching up with Apple in terms of profits and market share. Apart from Samsung, most of Apple's competitors are struggling to even make a profit. Companies like Nokia (NOK), Sony (SNE), BlackBerry (BBRY) and HTC might be able to build a phone as good as iPhone but they are hardly making money on those phones. Apple and Samsung are the only two companies that are actually making significant money in the smartphone market. In fact, Apple alone accounts for 72% of all profits in the smartphone market. So much for not being cool anymore. While a lot of analysts talk about how the competition is catching up on Apple, the things might be actually the opposite because some of Apple's competition might not even survive for long if they don't start turning in profits. If Apple can drive a few competitors out of business, it will have an even easier ride.
6- No one knows what Apple will produce next. No one could have guessed the arrival of iPods, iPhones or iPads before they arrived. We don't know what Apple is working on. If past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, we can be sure that Apple will come up with another product that will change the game for everyone again. If we go on Yahoo News or Google News and search for names of different companies, we will find out that Apple still generates the most amount of news out of all companies. For example, someone says "Apple will increase its dividends" and you see 400 stories regarding that. Someone says "Apple will create a new watch" and you see 600 stories citing that. If Apple was boring or "not cool anymore" like some analysts claim, the company wouldn't generate as much publicity as it does today. Even in Seeking Alpha, articles about Apple get read far more than articles about other companies. This doesn't look like a company that is "not cool anymore" to me.
Apple is still the world's most dominant and most valuable brand name that generates loads of cash while posting growth and beating estimates quarter after quarter. Customers still love Apple and they continue to buy Apple products as long as they can afford them. Just because Apple's stock price fell for some reason or another and analysts are trying to come up with stories as to why it happened doesn't mean Apple is not cool anymore.
Not only is Apple cool, but it is also one of the cheapest companies in the market today. As Dow Jones Industrial (DIA) and S&P 500 (SPY) are enjoying 5-year-high valuations, it is difficult to find companies that are as cheap as dirt. Currently, Apple provides this opportunity as the company is so cheap that the company's current price suggests no growth and even a profit drop of 20-30% in the next few years. Apple is currently trading for a P/E of 7, which is insanely low for any company, let alone a company like Apple with great products and great customer loyalty.
Even if innovation came to a stop at Apple, the company could still go on for years because it has enough cash to go on a shopping spree and buy a bunch of smaller companies that have new and fresh ideas that weren't tried before. At current rates, Apple is one of the best investments in the market.