NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- It's hard to imagine that just a little over two months ago the world was coming to an end. The stock market's favorite superhero, tech giant Apple ( AAPL) was trading at $522 after having reached its new 52-week high of $644.While that was (only) a $122 drop in its stock price, it represented (only) a 22% decline in overall value. I say "only" because what many investors quickly lost perspective of is the fact that the stock didn't break $400 until Dec. 23 and remarkably less than two months later it reached $500 and five weeks after that it was at $600. The stock needed a break. What better time than in the month of May when it is known to be the optimal peak selling period? Also for a bit of perspective on its close of $604 this past Friday, the stock was still up a remarkable 47% for the year. So what exactly has all of the commotion been about? Plus if investors consider that even at its recent low of $522 the stock was still up 30% year to date it seems the market has broadly forgotten why it fell in love with the stock in the first place -- but that's a separate issue altogether. The question investors want to know is where the stock heading next and should it be accumulated ahead of earnings?
These projections sound great but with the stock still 100% below its most bullish projections what everyone wants to know is where will its next neat idea come from? What can it possibly reveal during the conference call to send its shares soaring again to new heights much less to these enormous levels? This is the question that other leaders such as Cisco ( CSCO) and Microsoft were unable to answer. Though they are still relevant today, their dominance has slowed considerably. Can Apple avoid the same fate? According to my own recent calculations, I see the stock reaching as high as $1,500 based on the growth projections of not only markets in which Apple currently leads, but more importantly, in markets it has yet to enter -- particularly the automobile, where stocks such as Sirius XM ( SIRI) and Pandora ( P) are likely to start seeing some declining share, essentially taking a backseat to Apple. Now that it has demonstrated its dominance in markets such as smartphones, tablets, its line of computers and laptops, there is clear evidence that Apple's mobile iOS will help it create new markets such as its iTV initiative which will likely signal the beginning of the "smarthome." Having some understanding of market dynamics, here is what's going to happen over the next couple of years. Based on its sheer size and the revenue it is likely to generate from licensing its OS to the auto manufacturers, both Google and Microsoft will follow suit and enter the auto. These will essentially create the dominant players of that market with Apple the clear-cut leader. Microsoft saw this opportunity long before Apple when it partnered with Ford ( F) with its Sync car radio system, but it was unable to generate much success. This may now be another opportunity for it to re-ignite this feature.
It is hard to blame anyone for taking profits on a stock that has run up over 50% -- especially one that continues to be a case of "too good to be true." However, if one looks at all of the possibilities from its dominance within its existing market as well as its highly anticipated iPhone 5 and soon-to-be released mini-iPad, there seems no end to this growth story. I would definitely be a buyer here ahead of earnings. While some investors may consider playing the "bird in the hand" theory and cash in ahead of the company's announcement, it would not surprise me the least bit to see Apple reward investors with a few more surprises, as it did when it announced its dividend. At current levels, I will be buying Apple on any signs of weakness before or after the announcement. Where many see an expensive stock price, I see an equity trading at a considerable discount relative to its earnings potential. The stock is trading at a forward price-to-earnings ratio of only 11. That is in line with other technology companies, including its rivals in Google and Microsoft but considerably discounted to the forward P/E of 88 that Amazon ( AMZN) enjoys. Here's some perspective: In Apple's second-quarter results, the company continued to demonstrate just how dominant it is by earning $11.6 billion, or $12.30 per share, for the quarter -- almost matching what it earned for the entire fiscal 2010 calendar.