A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I was a staunch Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) bear. However, over the last year I have become increasingly impressed with the quality of Apple's management team even post-Jobs as well as the company's commitment to product innovation. These guys are the "real deal" and I think that the fears that I once had that Apple would become the next RIMM/NOK have all but subsided for me.
Folks, Apple is the real deal. It has staying power, it has a powerful brand, and most importantly, it has a management team with great heads on their respective shoulders. In the news, you likely saw that CEO Tim Cook announced that Apple had bought back a whopping $14 billion worth of Apple shares since the last earnings report. While I'm not a fan of buybacks that are not timed strategically, I think Cook and his finance team did a wonderful job of timing it properly and getting the point across.
Buying After The Bad News - Love It!
Right after Apple's shares dropped a whopping 8% following the earnings report (8% on a $500 billion company is a LOT of money) on fears that iPhone growth wasn't as robust as hoped and that the FQ2 guide wasn't great, the shares seemed to "stabilize." when in bad market days, the stock would have this tendency to act much stronger than the rest of the tech names that were getting slaughtered. Essentially, Apple - thanks to its buyback - was able to put a floor under the shares while sentiment was rough.
But Apple Will Need To Follow This Up With Real Revenue Growth
Now, make no mistake. If Apple just bought back shares just to give a short term boost to the stock price (i.e. to shut up Icahn), then long-term this can't last and the buyback still could turn out to be a waste of money.
However, at least for now, it's probably safe to assume that Cook and his team really do believe that the next generation iPhone/iPad roll outs, coupled with whatever "new product category" the company plans to introduce, will drive meaningful top/bottom line growth. If this turns out to be the case, then the share price will rise on its own merits and the buyback will have proven to be a great use of shareholder dollars.
The brilliance, though, is that at least over the next several months, the buyback - timed as it was - will have investors believing that management has an ace up its sleeve. This will make Apple a very difficult short (who wants to short ahead of potentially game-changing product introductions?) and as a result drive the share price upwards for a good long while.
Job well done, Tim Cook. Apple shareholders understand that Mr. Cook really is a fantastic CEO who makes smart, calculated moves.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.