has always believed that offering a wide variety of opinions and viewpoints -- rather than a monolithic "house view" -- helps readers make better-informed investment decisions. In that spirit, we bring you "360 Degrees."
This weekly feature is designed to take advantage of our stable of reporters and contributors, who will offer analysis of specific stocks from all angles -- fundamental vs. technical vs. short-term trader and long-term investor.
first "360 Degrees" column examined Internet search giant
, was chosen by the readers; please see our poll at the end of this column to help determine the next stock to get the "360 Degrees" treatment.
Techno Bull: Halo Effect by Cody Willard
This is an excerpt from a Columnist Conversation post that originally ran Feb. 1 on
I've been traveling all over this country for the last few months, and as I noted in December, I became a little concerned when people stopped asking to see my nano whenever I pulled it. And then I got more concerned when I heard the stewards talking about their new iPods.
At any rate, iPod is definitely not going to match its "growth" from last year, but Apple's not going to be sitting still (and it'll still sell tens of millions of iPods this year). The halo effect will be in overdrive throughout 2006 and into 2007. And I'm going to keep holding the stock for the foreseeable future.
At the time of publication, the firm in which Willard is a partner was long Apple, although positions can change at any time and without notice. Cody Willard is a partner in a buy-side firm and a contributor to RealMoney.com. He also produces a premium product for TheStreet.com called The Telecom Connection and is the founder of Teleconomics.com.
Street Insight: Apple Keeps on Growing by Steve Birenberg
This article was originally published Jan. 31 on
. To sign up for
, where you can read Birenberg's commentary in real time, please click here.
Jeff Bagley and I have been tag-teaming you with our defense of Apple Computer since the company reported its December quarter. We were both bullish prior to the earnings release, and I really feel that Jeff has hit it on the head with his long-term bullishness based upon the unusually large opportunity for Apple to enhance revenue and profits.
Basically, Jeff, along with Cody Willard on
has noted that Apple is one of the only really big-cap stocks that offers the prospect for sustained 20%-plus earnings growth over a multiyear period, which is sustained on top of the huge earnings gains being driven recently by the success of the iPod. Due to Apple's unique status as an actual mega-cap growth stock, Cody, Jeff and I are willing to live with the high valuation and occasional significant downside volatility. And speaking for myself, trimming the position on the way up makes the downside periods less painful.
To give you some sense of why Apple may offer such a high level of sustainable growth, consider the company today against the potential opportunity the company could have in PC and cell-phone sales. Last year, Apple sold almost 32 million iPods, generating $6.2 billion in revenue with average revenue per unit (ARPU) of $195. Additionally, Apple sold 4.7 million Macs, pulling in $6.4 billion in revenue at an ARPU of $1,350. Put those two together and you get $12.6 billion in revenue.
Last year, according to Gartner, worldwide PC sales grew to 218.5 million units, up 15.3%. On the basis of that data, Apple had a market share of 2.2%. Assuming flat PC sales, each 50 basis points in market share is worth 1.1 million units, nearly a quarter of Apple's total 2005 unit volume. Assuming the company can maintain an ARPU of $1,350, that works out to $1.5 billion in revenue, for a growth of 12% off the iPod plus the Mac 2005 revenue base.
If you believe the halo effect is worth anything, gaining 50 basis points of market share on a global scale each year is not such a stretch. And don't forget, margins on Macs are higher than margins on iPods, so on the operating income line, any market share gains in PCs will be magnified.
Apple hasn't introduced a cell phone yet, but many investors and analysts think that the company is going there next. According to Strategic Analytics, in 2005 global handset sales grew 19% to 810 million units. Handsets outsold MP3 players like the iPod by more than 15-to-1 last year.
Let's guess that Apple could maintain an ARPU similar to the $145 earned by
on its handset sales in 2005. Motorola's ARPU was heavily influenced by the high-end Razr, and given Apple's history of innovative design and premium pricing, you would have to expect any cell phone issued by the company to be a high-end product.
Let's stipulate further that Apple could gain a 5% market share of global handset shipments. That would work out to 40 million units at $145 or $5.8 billion in revenue. At that level, handsets would almost match the size of the current iPod and Mac businesses. In other words, the top-line could grow by almost one-third from a successful handset product. Granted operating margins in this business are below Mac, and probably iPod, levels but the revenue potential is huge.
Gaining market share in PCs and cell phones is incredibly difficult. Competitors are entrenched and top notch. Apple could fail. But as an investor, how many opportunities really exist in mega-cap stocks for the type of growth Apple could sustain? Very few. And don't forget, iPods are still a growth industry with unit volume growth north of 40% likely in 2006. Plus iPod accessories. And maybe that digital media hub. You get the idea.
At the time of publication, Birenberg was long Apple and Motorola, although holdings can change at any time.
Steven Birenberg, CFA, is president and chief investment officer of Northlake Capital Management, LLC. Northlake specializes in managing equity portfolios using a combination of exchange-traded funds and special situation stocks.
The Swing Trader: Early Warning Signal by Alan Farley
Apple Computer rallied strongly from $70 to $86 in December, thelatest leg of its long-term uptrend. Following its Jan. 18 earningsrelease, it retraced 100% of that rally, before finally bouncing earlierthis week. This decline completed a "first failure" early warning signalthat predicts the uptrend has finally ended.
I would sell Apple as it bounces into the Jan. 19 gap at $82, in anticipation of a breakdown below this week's low at $70.87.
Alan Farley is a professional trader and a contributor to RealMoney. Alan is also the author of the book The Master Swing Trader and operates a Web site related to swing trading (HardRightEdge.com). He also produces a premium product for TheStreet.com called The Daily Swing Trade.
Apple's Secret Hiding Place by Troy Wolverton
This is an excerpt from a column originally published Jan. 30 on
If you want an idea of what's next to come out of Apple Computer's idea factory, you might want to look to Hong Kong. Or maybe Singapore. Or possibly even Europe.
But you don't need an airline ticket. Instead, you can take a virtual trip on the Internet to the trademark offices of those countries and areas. Do a search for "Apple Computer" and you'll come up with all the phrases and images Apple has trademarked -- or applied to trademark -- in recent years.
For many of Apple's recent products and services, such as the iPod shuffle and nano lines and the Aperture photo-editing program, the company had filed a related trademark in locales far from its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters months before they were launched.
Of course, some of the trademarked images and phrases have yet to show up in actual Apple products -- and some never may. But the trademarks and filings not yet assigned to an actual product give a potential glimpse into what the company has in development.
And that continuing development is key. Although the popularity of the iPod has revived Apple in the past three years and sent its stock soaring, many investors are counting on the company to expand its product lineup in coming years to help continue its rapid growth.
here to read senior writer Troy Wolverton's full story.
In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, Wolverton doesn't own or short individual stocks. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships.