It's time to consider Apple more with all these negative headlines floating around the market.
That doesn't mean the world is ending or a bear market is approaching. But it does mean we have to be more careful about the types of stocks we pile our chips into. In particular, retirement investors need to be more careful when selecting single-stock holdings for their portfolio.
The reasons why are simple: Capital return, valuation and growth.
Let's start with the first one, capital return. Apple pays out a 1.5% dividend yield, which is far from robust. Especially when investors can collect a 3.2% yield from Cisco Systems, Inc. (CSCO) - Get Reportor a 2.6% yield from Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) - Get Report .
However, neither of these companies have the cash balance or the cash-generating power that Apple has. As a result, long-term investors anxiously await what management will unveil for its new capital return program in its fiscal second-quarter earnings results (typically in April or early May).
Last year, it bumped its dividend by 10.5% and added $35 billion to its buyback plan, which then stood at $210 billion. With corporate tax reform now in place and after a robust holiday quarter from Apple, the company is set to return a record amount of capital in 2018.
From Apple CFO Luca Maestri on the company's most recent conference call:
- "Our current net cash position is $163 billion. And given the increased financial and operational flexibility from the access to our foreign cash, we are targeting to become approximately net cash neutral over time."
- "We have $285 billion of cash, we've got $122 billion of debt for a net cash of $163 billion. We have now the flexibility to deploy this capital. We will do that overtime, because the amount is very large."
There's more to Apple than its capital return, though. Despite its fortress-like financial situation and robust consumer business (where it saw its average selling price for an iPhone jump more than $100 per unit to $796 last quarter), the stock is astoundingly cheap.
Apple stock trades at about 14.5 times 2018 earnings estimates and just 12.7 times 2019 estimates. The underlying business is strong, margins are good and its valuation is low.
However, this valuation would mean very little without growth. Fortunately, Apple has that, too.
Analysts expect earnings to grow a whopping 24% this year and an additional 14.5% next year. That goes alongside 14.2% revenue growth in 2018 and another 3.7% bump in 2019.
To recap: A huge commitment to returning capital to shareholders, a low valuation and attractive growth. What more could we ask for?
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This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author had no positions in the stocks mentioned.