(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on Real Money Oct. 14, 5:00 p.m.)
In our more rational moments, we know that corrections such as the ones we have seen over the last few weeks are essentially buying opportunities. Still, it takes courage to back up that rational analysis with cold hard cash, when an atmosphere of panic has taken hold. Often, the best way to ease back into buying mode is to find a large, solid company that has resisted the trend, and start there. Take Apple (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. (AAPL) Report , for example.
The fact that Apple has steadfastly refused to collapse with everything else indicates some underlying bid strength that should limit losses, at least if we turn tail again later this week. It also would indicate that when everybody wakes up and realizes that Ebola is not going to become an epidemic, and that the sky is not really falling, there will be plenty of upside to come.
The strength in the short term comes from the launch of the iPhone 6, which is almost bound to be a success, if history is our guide. How big a success it will be remains to be seen, but a flop looks extremely unlikely. I am not a great believer in the Apple Watch, nor are most analysts, it seems. Nobody has predicted blowout sales on that front, nor from the Apple TV. There is always the possibility that either product could take hold, of course, and any boost from either one would make the current forward P/E of around 14x look ridiculous.
As I said, I am not pinning my hopes on that. A solid performance from the iPhone 6 in both iterations, along with interesting updates to the iPad, will be enough to give some good news in the coming weeks. It is often the case that the real upside for Apple will come as the rumor mill begins to grind. Last week, Carl Icahn it left a bad taste in many people's mouths when he publicly urged more buybacks, but it could be the key to a prolonged surge in the stock.
I can understand that the sight of a billionaire urging the board of one of the world's most dynamic and innovative companies to abandon long-term plans and make him a bit richer a bit quicker turned some people off, but he is quite within his rights as a shareholder to give his opinion. After all, shareholders, not CEOs, actually own companies. Similarly, Apple's board is quite entitled to differ with Icahn, but it must make clear what its intentions are.
Icahn has made the debate public, and for that at least, we should be grateful. One of two things will happen. Icahn will get his way, which would provide an obvious boost to Apple's stock. Alternatively, the board will become more open and detailed about a long-term growth strategy, which would provide a boost to the stock.
Even if the board does not offer any detail, the knowledge that they will be looking for a strategy to argue against Icahn will probably cause enough speculation to give the stock support. Whatever transpires, Apple is likely to look mighty cheap below $100, in a few months.
When a market is retreating, not only stocks that have dropped dramatically represent value. A stock such as Apple, which has simply held ground instead of climbing, is often also underpriced. For those worried about jumping in too soon, it represents a relatively low-risk way of putting some cash back to work.
At the time of publication, Tillier had no positions in any of the securities mentioned.