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Is Apple a Buy or Are the Haters Right?

Stocks in this article: AAPL MSFT INTC CSCO ORCL

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- There's been a tug-of-war with shares of Apple (AAPL) in 2014. At $529, it is down nearly 6% for the year to date while up over 30% for the past 52 weeks.

Still, Apple's stock has lost some of its luster and the company is no longer the most talked about name in finance. That focus has shifted to Alibaba, social media stocks and whatever is the hot topic of the week.

So what's wrong with Apple? It has one of the strongest balance sheets in the world, industry-leading margins and substantial market share, yet the stock still trades at a discount to the broader market.

Consider the valuation of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, and Nasdaq 100 compared to Apple:

Surprisingly, Apple still grew sales 9.25% in fiscal 2013 and expectations are for the company to grow revenue 5.8% in the current fiscal year. 

While there are concerns about over-saturation in the smartphone market, analysts and Apple fans are hoping the company will have several new products on the way to diversify its dependency on iPhone sales. I'm not fully convinced wearable technology will take hold, or that Apple will be able to create another market out of thin air as it did with the iPad. 

My issue with Apple isn't the growth or product headwinds, although these are concerns. By buying shares of Apple, I recognize that its growth may remain very limited for quite some time. But its cash hoard, balance sheet and share buyback program make it more comforting to be a shareholder. 

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