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Interpreting the Apple Bashboys

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- I own Apple (AAPL). I also write about Apple.

As you might imagine -- seeing as I own the stock -- when I write about Apple, I tend to be optimistic about its growth prospects.

Of course, I'd like to think I see the world through non-rose-colored glasses. In the last few months, I've written about why the monolithic iTunes product worries me and what I see as the 10 biggest mistakes that Apple's made in the last 15 years since Steve Jobs returned to the company.

I'm used to the fact that when I write positive things about Apple, some readers invariably call me a fanboy or suggest that I'm on the payroll for Apple PR. I could care less.

I'm going to keep calling it like I see it and hopefully -- over time -- people will judge that I've done a pretty good job at assessing investment reality. If I'm wrong, my reputation will take a hit for being bullish about Apple.

I accept the fact that there are many Apple bears out there. They are welcome to put their views out there in the marketplace of ideas and let the public judge them over time.

Rocco Pendola writes for TheStreet regularly and has been a strong Apple bear. In one recent article, Rocco wrote that Steve Jobs would have fired Tim Cook over the recent Maps product introduction.

From my point of view, this is unlikely because (1) Steve hired Tim, (2) Steve picked Cook as his successor after having many years to prep for his possible death, and (3) according to Bloomberg last week, Steve approved the development and release of the Apple Maps product even with the likely bugs and initial criticism that might come with the first switch over.

I like Rocco's stuff but I think it's fair to say he's been an Apple bear for some time. He wrote a post for Seeking Alpha -- last year I think -- where he outlined why he was selling his Apple in the $300s. It doesn't mean we should discount everything he says about Apple now, but that history is a valid data point to keep in mind.

Many Apple bears have been wrong to this point in their calls -- and yet they continue to stick to their guns.

That's understandable. I've done it myself. I went long Yahoo! (YHOO) in December 2010. Since then, I haven't made money on the trade but I haven't lost money. It's tied up my capital though and the market is up since then, so it's been a bad trade to this point.

Yet, I'm still holding my shares because I think it will work out and pay back my opportunity cost losses in the next year.

Another TheStreet contributor, Doug Kass, has been in the news recently because of a post he ran last week outlining the ten reasons for a bear case about Apple. I'll go over his list another time.

I regularly read Doug's stuff and enjoy it, especially about market configurations. I also remember -- and most should -- his amazing market bottom call of March 2009.

But I think his thinking on Apple has been muddled and off-base for some time. As others have pointed out -- and I think this is a totally fair criticism -- Doug's been bearish on Apple since:

  1. A week after the iPhone's introduction in January 2007 when the stock was at $94
  2. Since June 2009, when the stock was at $139
  3. Since October 2011, when the stock was at $422
  4. Since February 2012, when the stock was at $502
  5. And now since Oct. 3 when the stock was at $665

There's no shame in being wrong about a call, but you've got to have some big, brass chutzpah to quintuple down on a bad call that's moved against you almost continuously for five years running.

Conviction is great but at some point you have to push back from the table and clear your head about a trade that didn't work out.

It's fine if readers want to call me a mindless Apple fanboy and never bother to read the substance of my reasons for being bullish on Apple. But let's be at least equally skeptical of the arguments made by the Apple bears.

At the end of the day, the stock price performance will answer all.

At the time of publication the author had positions in AAPL and YHOO.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Eric Jackson is founder and Managing Member of Ironfire Capital and the general partner and investment manager of Ironfire Capital US Fund LP and Ironfire Capital International Fund, Ltd. In January 2007, Jackson started the world's first Internet-based campaign to increase shareholder value at Yahoo!, leading to a change in CEOs in 2007. He also spoke out in favor of Yahoo!'s accepting Microsoft's buyout offer in 2008. Global Proxy Watch named Jackson as one of its 10 "Stars" who positively influenced international corporate governance and shareowner value in 2007.

Prior to founding Ironfire Capital, Jackson was President and CEO of Jackson Leadership Systems, Inc., a leadership, strategy, and governance consulting firm. He completed his Ph.D. in the Management Department at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business in New York, with a specialization in Strategic Management and Corporate Governance, and holds a B.A. from McGill University.

He was previously Vice President of Strategy and Business Development at VoiceGenie Technologies, a software firm now owned by Alcatel-Lucent. In 2004, Jackson founded the Young Patrons' Circle at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, which is now the second-largest social and philanthropic group of its kind in North America, raising $500,000 annually for the museum. You can follow Jackson on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ericjackson or @ericjackson.

You can contact Eric by emailing him at eric.jackson@thestreet.com.

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