Apple (AAPL) might be a perfect case study today in the "wisdom of the crowd." That's the idea that goes along with efficient market theory, which says that when a concept, stock or idea is overwhelmingly approved of by "the crowd," then it is usually correct.Today, Apple went up as much as 5% to hit an all-time high at $102.50 before settling back to $100.33 as I write this. These shares are not up on pure speculation but on the blowout earnings of 87 cents a share for the quarter ($770 million in cash earnings) compared with $410 million in earnings, or 47 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. Analysts were expecting 64 cents for this quarter. The company sold 10.5 million iPods and 1.5 million Macs. Even margins went up as prices for the flash memory components in the iPod steadily declined. Margins went from 29.8% in the year-ago period to 35.1% now. This is all in the face of ongoing negative news about Steve Jobs' relationship to the options backdating scandal. Also, Apple recently stated that it is delaying the release of its Leopard operating system to focus more on the iPhone. All of this has been very good news for users of Stockpickr. Of the 60,000-plus portfolios on the site, 6,203 hold Apple. Furthermore, there are more than 14,000 symbols across all of Stockpickr's portfolios, and Apple is No. 1 on the most-liked list followed by NYSE Euronext ( NYX), which is in 5,389 portfolios, and Altria ( MO), which is in 4,496 portfolios. In the case of Apple, the crowd clearly knew best, delivering a solid blow against the contrarian investing crowd.
With the renewed focus on getting the iPhone out the door, it's worth taking a look at the portfolio of public companies that will be supplying the parts and software to the iPhone. Even if Apple captures just 1% of the cell-phone market, that could be more than 10 million units sold. The list includes Broadcom ( BRCM), which supplies chips for mobile-phone makers, and Marvell ( MRVL), which will probably supply the Wi-Fi functionality; let's not forget AT&T ( T), which will be selling the iPhone. Apple also is a component of the PowerShares Technical Leaders ( PDP). This ETF focuses on the stocks that have demonstrated strong relative strength compared with other stocks. In other words, they had good charts over the past quarter. Another large component of this ETF is NutriSystem ( NTRI), which also had blowout earnings this quarter. For other large components of the ETF, go to the PowerShares Technical Leaders ETF page on Stockpickr. Finally, it's worth noting that a policy of following the best investors would have paid off with Apple. Prince Al-Waleed, often called the "Warren Buffett of the Middle East," has been accumulating shares of Apple. I tend to prefer contrarian investing, the idea that beaten down, underfollowed stocks have the most potential for gain. But Apple is a great example that sometimes the crowd simply knows best.