Can the Bears Get to Apple?

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The next obstacle for the market is upon us. The bears are forecasting a no growth earnings season. They have moved on from European crisis mode and are now fretting about the impact of high commodity prices, decreasing Chinese growth and a weakened European economy. The past week has offered hundreds of articles on the topic.

The true test of an economic variable is the market's reaction to it. We will closely monitor the market's reaction to earnings season with the first few reports. It's worth noting that the Dow is showing increased downside volatility in the near term.

Apple

Over the past two weeks, we have had three days in which the Dow dropped more than 125 points. The Dow hasn't closed below 13,000 since March 12, but as I write this post the Dow is trading at an intraday level of 12,909 due to the worse than expected employment report. The Dow 13,000 level is a good barometer as we observe the next few weeks of earnings reports.

Our view, however, is a little different than the bearish view. We think that these lowered earnings expectations could not come at a better time. This is the perfect set-up that enables companies to beat expectations. Instead of the market being down, it has merely flattened out and is waiting to see what the next few weeks will bring.

Let's look at today as an example. Apple ( AAPL) had every reason to be down $10. As 20% of the Nasdaq there is significant downside pressure when the index is down 40 to 50 points and yet Apple buyers overwhelmed the selling pressure as the stock went into positive territory.

In addition to the employment selloff, Apple was downgraded this morning on the thesis that wireless carriers are on the verge of cutting back iPhone subsidies that provide Apple with its $600 ASP. The thesis makes sense in a theoretical sort of way but here in reality we see carriers like Sprint ( S) deciding to do whatever it takes to become an iPhone distributor.

Apple calls its own shots when demand is off the charts. Apple remains in charge when it comes to pricing power. This was the first downgrade to Apple since Colin Gillis downgraded the stock 60% ago in October of last year. The institutional demand from income/dividend investors continues to push this stock upwards.

We've noticed that the dividend-buying really started to kick in at the beginning of the April quarter. The dividend was announced on March 18 and the stock rallied to $601 the next trading day. Where did the stock finish the quarter? $599. In the five trading days since the quarter began the stock has rocketed up to $635.

Why did the dividend buyers wait? It's because of the volatility of Apple. If those funds would have immediately bought Apple and the stock had dropped into quarter's end, it would have ruined their quarterly returns. That kind of risk is exactly what fund managers try to avoid. Instead, they waited until the start of the new quarter which gives them three months of hold Apple which mitigates any volatility shocks. The institutional demand continues to be obvious from today's reversal.

Besides Apple, our position in Dangdang ( DANG) has surged since the day we bought it. We are increasing our allocation by another 2% today as the stock is up to $11. We are choosing to sell out of Sina and Yoku and put that capital into DANG. It's amazing to think that one year ago this stock traded as high as $26 a share. The stock is benefitting from its new partnership with Gome that allows Dang to sell computers and electronics on its site.

Dangdang is also in the process of strengthening its e-commerce presence with the introduction of a pinterest type app. The stock finished the week of March 9 at $6.47. It's been a good month to jumpstart momentum.

This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.

Jason Schwarz is an option strategist for Lone Peak Asset Management in Westlake Village, Calif. He is also the founder of the popular investment newsletter available at www.economictiming.com. Over the past few years, Schwarz has gained acclaim for his market calls on the price of oil, Bank of America, Apple, E*Trade, and his precision investing in S&P 500 option LEAPS. His book, The Alpha Hunter, is set to be released by McGraw Hill in December 2009.

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