As disappointing as Apple's quarter may have been for many, it was a non-event for most. Anyone concerned over the results of one quarter is not investing for the long term. The problem with public companies is they have to report results every quarter. Reporting every quarter is designed to stop fraud and abuse of shareholders, not to scrutinize every last sale. The spectacle of assigning importance to a single quarter's results is a media-driven invention. In order to sell newspapers, the press needs a story. If the media can demonstrate the importance of a single quarter, the media can generate four times more news. Unfortunately, business doesn't work that way. From a company point of view, one year is a small timeframe for most. Break it down to quarters and the data are usually little more than noise. Trying to value a company on one quarter is no different from looking at 10 random pieces of a 2,500-piece puzzle and trying to figure out what the picture is. In the last 90 or so days, China and Europe sales didn't impress analysts. Ok, so what? Does it matter? Of course not, because when taken as a whole the last 12, 24, or 36 months are not only impressive, they scream "Buy On Dips" over and over again. If you call yourself an Apple investor and not a trader, the last quarter and this quarter should garner the same reaction. Take a look at the numbers. Check if there is anything that may cause concern (slight variations in sales either up or down are not a cause for concern) like fraud or a drastic change in the marketplace. If there isn't anything material that will change the outlook for the next year, move on and spend your time reading another article in TheStreet that may give you another investment idea. Apple examined based on the last 12 months, or the next 12 months, is a great investment.
Google ( GOOG), Microsoft ( MSFT) and at this point Research In Motion ( RIMM) are giving their software away for free to compete with Apple. GOOG data by YCharts
Does the level of competition necessitate Apple losing market share? No. RIM was the king of smartphones and Apple was the underdog not long ago. Even Google with free software is unable to unseat King Apple. Microsoft has a war chest worth billions, and you can't even find the company on the smartphone radar. MSFT data by YCharts
Apple was priced for an earnings miss and that is why shares are down by such a small amount. I don't believe in the theory of "subtract cash and calculate the PE" but I do believe it's fair to count some of cash -- for example half the cash. Is the dividend material to Apple's valuation? Yes, perhaps, but not much. The dividend is great for 2012 but once 2013 rolls into town on the tax increase express, dividend payments lose some of the sparkle. Consider the dividend a slight positive, but far from a requirement to feel comfortable owning Apple. I pick on Google, Microsoft, and RIM, but I like all three. RIM is pure speculation and not an investment, in my opinion, because I believe it will find a buyer. Google and Microsoft, like Apple, are cash cows that may not have the sex appeal of Facebook ( FB) but they make money and money never goes out of style. Use the price drop and the "oh no the sky is falling" emotion to your advantage. Selling put options is a great way to gain or increase exposure with Apple. The October $540 strike put options are trading for about $17.90. If Apple is above $540 on option expiration day, the entire premium is profit. That equates to a profit of over 3% in fewer than 90 days. If the options are exercised, the cost basis for Apple is $522.10. At the time of publication the author did not hold a position in any stock mentioned. This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.