Company observers say Apple's steady growth overseas and its coming launch of the iPhone in new markets overseas could help offset some of the economic uncertainty in the U.S. markets.
Consumer demand remains strong for the iPhone, a major player in the smartphones market, according to market research firm ChangeWave Research.
Indeed the iPhone is the top choice among consumers planning to buy a new cell phone in the next six months, according to data from a poll of 4,182 consumers surveyed by ChangeWave.
"Fundamentally I think nothing with Apple has changed," says Romeo Dator, co-manager of the All American Equity Fund
at U.S. Global Investors, which has Apple in its top 10 holdings. "The price now has got more to do with the general market sentiment."
Apple investors hope that prognosis is correct. Their stock has been battered along with other tech stocks as Wall Street grapples with the possibility of a recession at worst or an economic slowdown at best.
Apple shares have fallen nearly 37% since they closed at their 52-week high of $199.83 on Dec. 28. The stock was up $2.98, or 2.4%, to $124.16 in recent trading.
The slide has come despite such recent company offerings as the Macbook Air, a new lightweight notebook, and new models of the iPhone and iPod Touch offering greater storage.
Darren Chervitz, director of research for the Jacob Internet Fund, says Apple's long-term prospects remain strong and the recent dip presents a buying opportunity. Jacob Internet Fund holds shares of Apple in its portfolio.
Fears that a recession or a slowdown could impact consumer spending may already be baked into the stock at its current levels, experts say.
"Apple stock price currently has priced in a recession-like scenario," says Dator. A lot of bad news is already priced in there."
Portfolio managers such as Dator and Gary Bradshaw of Hodges Capital Management are betting the economy will slow down but might just avoid slipping into a recession.
Apple shares got hit hard after its first-quarter results on the belief that the company's guidance was below analysts' expectations. But Bradshaw says that kind of guidance is Apple's typical modus operandi.
"Apple has guided the Street down in last of the seven of eight quarters so we think the market is being excessively pessimistic about the company's numbers," he says.
With the stock beaten down to its current levels it offers an attractive valuation, portfolio managers say.
Apple trades at about 19 times its 2009 earnings estimates and has a five-year price to earnings growth (PEG) value of 1.08.
( MOT), trades at about 17 times its 2009 estimates but has a five-year PEG ratio of 6.58. And BlackBerry maker
Research In Motion
( RIMM) trades at about 25 times its 2009 earnings estimates but has a five-year PEG ratio of 1.
"To be able to buy Apple at these estimates is way too cheap," says Bradshaw. "And we added to our position in Apple recently."
The company's growing international sales could also help buffer against economic worries in the U.S. market, he says.
In its last quarter (first quarter fiscal 2008), international sales accounted for 45% of the quarter's revenue. That is up from 40% from in the third and fourth quarter of fiscal 2007.
Still it will take a few things to jump start the stock price, says Dator.
Apple is expected to launch a 3G iPhone this year and could also refresh its Macbook Pro line of notebook computers.
"I think new products will drive more favorable sentiment around the stock," says Dator.