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How Apple Stock Will Help Us Beat China's Downturn

Companies / Apple Aug 19, 2015 - 12:49 PM GMT

By: ...

Companies Michael A. Robinson writes: It's been about a month since Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) shares started their recent slip. They're now down about 12% in that time, and a few talking heads are still trying to scare investors into selling…

As usual, they're wrong.

The stock market has pulled back overall, and Apple isn't immune from those downturns.

Really, no stock is.

But I love Apple as a foundational tech holding, and I remain just as optimistic as ever about it. In fact, with this recent dip, I'm even more so.

It's not just because the company is booking record sales and leading the charge to develop "must-have" technology – although that's true.

It's the long-term trends in China – and Apple's disruptive, dominating position there and around the globe – that will bring incredible profits over the months and years to come.

So, I see this market "breather" as a great opportunity to snap up these must-buy shares at, frankly, ridiculously low prices.

Let me explain, and then I'll show you just how to play Apple in this situation…

Understanding Apple's Relationship with China Is Critical

Part of the rationale for Apple's recent decline has been the devaluing of the yuan. The thinking goes that a weaker yuan translates to less revenue when it's ultimately converted back into U.S. dollars.

While macroeconomics will certainly come into play, what's actually happening at the company has a more immediate impact. Apple revenue hit a third-quarter fiscal year record of $49.6 billion. That's up roughly a third over its previous third-quarter mark. Earnings per share were up 45%.

We're clearly not talking about a tech startup, but we may as well be – any startup would have to be thrilled with growth like that. Indeed, Apple's Greater China segment, which includes mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, was up 112% compared to fiscal Q3 last year.

There's also been much made of Chinese competitors such as Huawei Technology Co. Ltd. cutting into Apple's iPhone sales in China.

It's true, the yuan's devaluation is designed in part to help local firms, but keep in mind that the iPhone is a premium brand that is tearing up the market even though it's priced at over double the average smartphone cost there.

The iPhone has become a status symbol in the world's most populous nation. Consider that, by 2022, there will be 630 million people in China's middle class, consuming goods and services worth $3.4 trillion, and you get some idea of the sheer depth of Apple's market there.

So, frankly, concerns over unit sales have more to do with doubters finding a storyline via a perceived weakness in Apple's armor than any viable, long-term threat.

Apple, on the other hand, poses a very real threat to many of its competitors – especially those who don't truly realize they're competing with Apple yet.

Apple Will Kill Cable in Its Own Sweet Time

A case in point: Apple just announced that the upgrade to its Apple TV set-top box will not release until 2016.

The reason: It's still in negotiations with content providers over pricing.

Think about it… Few, if any, other companies have more leverage and experience in content negotiation than Apple. Fewer still have done it more regularly, or have the process more fine-tuned, than Apple, thanks to its iTunes music and online video business.

That means their decision to step back from unacceptable pricing, even on the threshold of a major breakthrough that could actually decimate the cable industry, isn't a delay, it's just smart business.

Because when you get right down to it, really it's all about the margins – the company has operating margins of more than 30%, and a 40% return on stockholders equity.

Now they're not tied to inking a deal by the September announcement date. And you'd better believe the content providers wish they had that date to bargain against.

Analysts attributing the share price dip to Apple TV delay concerns are guilty of short-term thinking. The truth is, over the long haul, Apple could not be better positioned to revolutionize TV.

And its stock just got cheaper, too…

These Shares Are Priced for Profits

The Nasdaq was down 2.87% in the past month as of Tuesday's close. Apple stock has been hit a lot harder, dropping 10.18% during the same period.

But… we know better than to invest month to month. This is a stock priced for the long haul.

Consider that Apple trades at less than 12 times forward earnings. That's an incredible 40% less than the same multiple for the Nasdaq 100.

You may recall that I went on the record on Oct. 30, 2013, saying that Apple stock would move to a pre-split price of $1,000 a share by Labor Day 2016. We're getting close to a year away from that latter date and the post-split target of $142.85.

Closing at around $116.50 on Tuesday, we're up nearly 55%, while the Nasdaq is up just below 30% since my original call.

Such a dramatic move for a massively capitalized company like Apple isn't easy, and yet we've got a clear winner here already. That split-adjusted target of $142.85 is not only feasible, but I still think we'll hit it, then run higher.

Here's How to Play Apple Right Now

Apple is a high-profile company with an ubiquitous product line. It has a cult following, and it commands an outsized portion of sentiment.

And so the share price is vulnerable to that, to the tune of a few dollars in each direction.

In light of all this, it's clear that Apple's downturn and current woes have more to do with media hype and investor anxiety than any kind of serious trouble with fundamentals.

And there's our opportunity.

So, here's what we'll do.

Let's hold onto those shares we bought back on Oct. 30, 2013, and pick up more while they're on sale.

Long-term investors should also think about putting in a lowball limit order for even more Apple shares should prices go lower from here.

Of course, I'd still think about a "free trade" when we double. But we're not there yet, and we have plenty to room to run.

As I often remind investors, no stock goes straight up. They all take pauses along the way. Savvy investors keep a sharp eye out for these openings.

I'll keep you abreast of the real nature of the latest developments at Apple as we get closer to Labor Day 2016. I'm still predicting that will be a red-letter day for us and for Apple.


Money Morning/The Money Map Report

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