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An Activist Investor Gooses a Golden Apple

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Finally, after so long a wait, the crown jewel of the mobile tech tsunami is seeing its stock get some respect.

Apple (AAPL - Get Report) has come a long way up from its 52-week low, when seemingly no one had anything nice to say about it.

Yet, when billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn reveals he's taken a large position in Apple and believes the company's stock is "extremely undervalued," suddenly the Rodney Dangerfield of tech titans turns into a Chris Rock! AAPL closed Tuesday up nearly 5% to $489.57.

Gosh sakes alive, the three-month average daily volume on AAPL is a little more than 12 million shares. Mr. Iconic Icahn steps into the picture and -- swish bang -- the volume skyrockets above 36 million shares.

Perhaps Steve Jobs is channeling himself through Icahn but Tim Cook has awakened to a powerful ally who wants to keep in touch with him. I can't imagine him minding Icahn's revelations.

When Carl Icahn suggests the stock buyback has to be boosted quickly, you can run but you cannot hide. That's one of the reasons Apple spokesman Steve Dowling confirmed Icahn and the CEO communicated on Tuesday, saying that Cook had a "very positive conversation" with Icahn.

Apple said in April that it would expand its stock buyback program to $60 billion, marking the largest buyback authorization in history. The buyback, combined with an increased dividend, is part of the company's plan to return $100 billion in cash to shareholders by the end of 2015.

Let's see how AAPL shares have been performing in just the past three months. Its share value has almost turned suddenly to gold!

AAPL Chart AAPL data by YCharts

Perhaps Icahn has also looked at AAPL's price to tangible book value and shouted, "This stock could go as high as $600 in the blink of an eye or in the same time it takes me to write a check!"

After all, why should a smartly managed company that has over $181 a share in trailing 12-month (TTM) revenue be trading at a forward (one-year) price/earnings ratio of barely more than 11? Any wonder Icahn is tweeting that AAPL is not just undervalued but "extremely undervalued?"
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