NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- It bugs the living heck out of Apple (AAPL) diehards. How can AAPL trade at a P/E ratio of 16, while we're-not-sure-we'll-be-profitable-next-quarter Amazon.com (AMZN) commands a ratio of 300?
This goes against every single thing your granddad taught you about investing. For goodness sake, in a world this absurd, AAPL should cost, like, $13,000 per share.
At first blush, it is strangely peculiar. Using old-school applications of the P/E ratio, Wall Street undervalues the world's top-performing company by a mile, while overvaluing a company with razor-thin margins and an appetite for spending. That goes against everything that makes sense. Or does it?
In the spirit of Michelle Obama kicking Clint Eastwood's ass, please follow a political analogy to help explain this seemingly inane AMZN-P/E conundrum.Even though he was killed before I was born, I am a big Robert F. Kennedy fan. Liberal politics died in America when Sirhan Sirhan gunned RFK down on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. Heck, we might not have had to endure Richard Nixon if RFK had become president. In any event, many Obama-hating Republicans were big-time Kennedy Democrats in the 1960s. If you're around my age, 37, ask your parents who they voted for in 1960 and who they wanted to vote for in 1968. If you're around the age of my parents, 60 or 70, what say you? I bet you respond with a pair of brothers. Losing JFK in 1963 hurt. The assassination of Malcolm X raised eyebrows in 1965. But the murders during a three-month span in 1968 of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy sapped any shred of political activism and awareness out of liberal Democrats. Somewhere along the way these people -- folks like my parents -- became raging conservatives. The barren economy of much of the 1970s compounded the shock of the aforementioned deaths, quite possibly sending baby boomers into this downward political spiral. Conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and Rupert Murdoch came along and made it stick. I don't buy the old adage that "a young conservative has no heart, and an old liberal has no brain." I subscribe to the theory Thomas Frank put forth in his 2004 book What's the Matter With Kansas?. These old Democrats act in opposition to what's good for their own and their country's economic interests when they vote along conservative and supposedly traditional lines.
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