My past with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been one where I've mostly been in the bull camp with the company, a position that I still keep with regards to Apple as an investment. With tons of market share still to gain and the advantage of its "ecosystem" sales that don't cannibalize each other - combined with rock solid fundamentals and a dividend - Apple, no doubt, remains one of the best possible investment vehicles on the street.
Apple, as a multi-year investment, has doubled and doubled again - then again, since the early 2000's when it first began its return to glory under then interim CEO Steve Jobs. Over the past year, the stock has been down 21.7%, but recent investors over the last three months have benefited from a 15.5% surge, with a breakout occurring recently after billionaire Carl Icahn disclosed his stake in the company.
As you'd see from a current chart, Apple is trading healthily, and the 50 DMA has just crossed the 200 DMA - charting nerds everywhere are rejoicing at the coveted "golden cross". In all seriousness, however, this could be a technical signal for a sustained uptrend in Apple moving forward.
Regardless of its past trading, I'm still bullish on Apple. I've been happy to not see any recent headlines with regards to Carl Icahn, Peter Oppenheimer and Apple CEO Tim Cook continuing talks about the further buybacks that Icahn wanted from the company since he's taken his large stake in the company.
So, imagine my surprise when another billionaire, Julian Robertson, came out of the woodwork earlier this week and explained to CNBC why he decided to dump his Apple shares. Why did he do it? Surely, it was profit-taking, or based on technicals or fundamentals - right? Wrong. It was because Steve Jobs used to be a big fat meanie, and Julian Robertson wants us to know that he harbors some type of retroactive, post-dated, asinine objection to this.
Sure, Robertson is considered a legend across Wall Street since turning his fund, Tiger Management, from a $8 million fund to a $22 billion fund in 16 years. However, he then went out of business in 2000 because of his refusal to participate in investing in the internet/tech rally of the time. So, he missed the point with regards to investing in technology in the early 2000's - and he's missing it again, now.
Though billionaire Julian Robertson once considered Apple to be one of the world's greatest companies and a sound investment, the renowned hedge funder told CNBC on Monday he has dumped all shares because founder Steve Jobs was a "really awful" person.
Robertson came to the decision after reading a biography about the technology innovator, he said. Though the stock performed well for him, he decided to sell all his shares in January.
"We'll let somebody else make the money from now on," he said on "Closing Bell."
Folks, you're witnessing nothing more than a PR stunt, from a guy who has likely gone short in Apple since he's sold his stake. Robertson coming out and making this King Solomon like decision to sell based on Jobs being "mean" is a farce for a couple of reasons:
1. Robertson has been bullish on Apple for years, no doubt making a significant profit in his investment in the company that Steve Jobs built. He's collected countless dividends and no doubt managed to turn himself a significant profit on Apple stock. If he was so appalled by Jobs' behavior, why not turn over all the money he's made on Apple to begin with?
2. I'm speaking loosely, but since when are hedge fund managers the moral fiber of this country? Does anyone else find it hilarious that Robertson, who no doubt has likely made an enemy or two in his time, is framing this sell to make it look as if its due to some moral objection? I assure you, it isn't.
The facts are that if Julian Robertson thought he could make just one more dime on Apple, he'd still be in. This is simply how billionaires think. You don't make billions without stomping on a couple of people's heads in the process. The facts are that he's had it with the company as an investment, could be short, and needs some reasoning to pin that on - hence, we get this ridiculous Steve Jobs story.
Now, I'm not sticking up for Steve Jobs, either. No doubt the man had his extremely questionable traits; and I'm not suggesting that the company's success makes up for any of that. What I am saying is that had there been no Jobs, there'd be absolutely no Apple as we know it today. That's something to keep in perspective. An outsider can say what they want about Jobs - I have no beef with that. But, a guy that's likely made millions off the company success comes back and starts to badmouth its founder? Julian, you can't have your steak and eat it too.
How many other companies has Robertson invested in that have had "not nice" founders/CEOs? I'd bet, more than one - and I could probably poke around and do the research to find more than one. Why? Because that's how you find extreme success - you push boundaries - and it's not always pretty.
2013 was a year laden with catalysts for Apple. We got the introduction of two new iPhones, a new iOS, surprise iPhone sales numbers, and a Apple branded internet radio station that's likely going to crush Pandora (NYSE:P) singlehandedly. The company, hands down, remains a great investment vehicle.
I also feel that Apple has a ton of speculative items coming down its pipeline - we know we're going to see an iWatch in the future, but what other "ecosystem" products are they going to produce?
George Kesarios gets this. His article, "Apple Has Many Aces Up His Sleeve" talks about this:
Obviously the iWatch is one thought, but why stop there? Imagine for example if you can implant a small device to monitor you heart or blood and send the data via Bluetooth to your iPhone and the data is automatically monitored by your doctor from his iPhone or from a desktop computer in his office.
While the idea is not new (for example here and here), all these devices require some sort of external power source. Imagine however if these devices could work for months at a time, or can even be recharged via some sort of wireless recharging technology in the future
The point is that Apple remains a great investment. Robertson is a guy that missed the tech run in the 2000's and it cost him. Now, he's missing the point entirely with Apple and selling his profitable stake.
Robertson is used to be the king of the investing game, but his generation will be giving way to the Ackmans coming down the pipe. He reminded us of this when he finished up the CNBC.com article by saying:
"I don't tweet," he said. "I don't know how to tweet."
… and you want to be my latex salesman.
I'm all for taking profits, but I contest that Apple still has plenty of room to grow - mobile sales overseas, Mac market share, future "ecosystem" products. Not only that, but again, the company's cash position is huge and it sports a healthy dividend. If I had the cash, I'd buy Robertson's entire stake from him directly, call up CNBC and make a headline out of it to combat the sensationalism of his "sale on principle".
Best of luck to all Apple investors.