Buy Apple on Investor Unease: Goldman

CUPERTINO, California ( TheStreet) -- Apple's ( AAPL) listless share price could present a gilt-edged buying buying opportunity for investors, according to Goldman Sachs, which says that recent concerns about the company's upside are overstated.

"We continue to believe the current valuation represents a remarkably attractive buying opportunity," explained Goldman analyst Bill Shope, in a note released on Monday. "We would be aggressive buyers of Apple's stock."
Apple's current valuation presents an attractive buying opportunity, says Goldman Sachs.

Apple shares have dipped more than 2% over the last three months, halting the phenomenal growth that has come to be associated with the company's shares. Investors have been spooked by a number of factors, including Apple's apparent decision to eschew its traditional June launch for the new iPhone 5, as well as recent iPad supply constraints.

Apple has given little indication of its iPhone 5 launch plans although it has confirmed that its June Worldwide Developers' Conference, typically the launch pad for new hardware, will focus on its iOS and Mac operating systems. Set against this backdrop, there has been speculation that the iPhone 5 may not appear until the fall.

Goldman's Shope, however, thinks that investors should not lose too much sleep about this issue, particularly at a time when iPhone sales are going through the roof.

"We believe iPhone demand remains robust without a refresh, and last quarter's sharp unit upside further supports this view," he wrote. "We believe a one-quarter delay to the iPhone 5 would have no fundamental impact on the long-term profit drivers of the company in 2011 and beyond."

The analyst, who believes that supply chain "hiccups" offer the best opportunities for Apple's stock, adds that the uptick in new iPhone sales will likely shift from the September to the December quarter.

Shope also feels that any uncertainty about the iPad is overblown.

"Last quarter's iPad shortfall has led some to believe that this key product line may be less of a growth driver than many had hoped," he wrote. "We believe this couldn't be further from the truth."

The supply-side constraints that recently impacted iPad sales appear to have eased, according to Shope, who expects Apple to ship 8.1 million tablets in the June quarter, a 72% sequential hike.

There was further evidence of Apple's iPad momentum on Monday when publishing giant Condé Nast announced that it is offering subscriptions for iPad versions of its magazines. Subscriptions are now available for The New Yorker, it said, with other titles such as Vanity Fair, Glamour and GQ following in the coming weeks.

Apple was also cited as the world's most valuable brand in Millward Brown's 2011 BrandZ study on Monday, ending Google's ( GOOG) four-year reign as No.1.

Another question mark hanging over Apple, however, remains the status of Steve Jobs' health. The iconic Apple chief is on his third medical leave from the company. With Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook once again deputizing for his boss, though, Shope says that the consumer tech giant is in safe hands.

"While we have no incremental details on the nature of Mr. Jobs' health at this time , we stress that avoiding Apple's stock on these health-related news events has been a mistake in the past," he explained. "Furthermore, if Tim Cook were to permanently take on the role of CEO, we believe investors would quickly embrace him as Apple's new leader."

Apple shares crept up 53 cents, or 0.15%, to $347.19 on Monday.

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

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