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Apple Blossoms Into Boring

Stocks in this article: AAPL NFLX IBM MSFT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Apple (AAPL) stock has been bouncing around for so long, from $700 a share to $400, to $550 and then $500, that it's hard to imagine it as fairly priced, and as unlikely to move much in either direction.

But that's where it is.

Rocco Pendola's defense notwithstanding, and Anton Wahlman's "attack" notwithstanding, Apple under Tim Cook has become a fairly boring company.

Another iPhone, even an old one? I am not excited. A $14 billion stock buy-back? Good for shareholders, not exciting. Dropping Bitcoin? Stupid, but also not exciting.

Under Steve Jobs, Apple represented excitement. You never knew what was going to happen next. The company was a heroic saga, and it made everyone who bought shares in it feel like a genius.

Under Tim Cook, Apple is no more exciting than a term paper. It's transparent, it makes logical moves, it gives back to shareholders, but as Gertrude Stein wrote of Oakland long ago, "there's no there there."

Even Apple's rumors have become ho-hum, as Chris Ciacca reports. Netflix (NFLX) has a content delivery network. Samsung already brought out a watch. An Apple TV might be exciting, depending on features and price, but to be a really big deal it should have come out in 2012, not 2014.

Cook has transformed Apple, from what Jim Cramer called a "momentum" stock, into what I call an extractive one. Its below-market price-to-earnings ratio of 12.78 is fair because its dividend yield of 2.38% is also low. Its top-line growth has noticeably slowed, down to the high single-digits, its profit margins have fallen, and its results have become predictable.

Apple is not "troubled" in the way that, say, IBM (IBM) is "troubled" because the cloud is eating its lunch, or that Microsoft (MSFT) is "troubled" because its devices aren't selling. What Apple is doing under Tim Cook is working. It's just not doing that much of it.

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