Is Apple More Valuable to Me Than My Wife?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- When assessing my portfolio recently, I looked at Apple (AAPL), my largest holding and wondered where would I be today had I taken the money used for my wedding 10 years ago and instead invested all of it by buying its stock?

For as much as I love tech giant Apple and appreciate the fact that it is the most valuable company in the world, I want to first make it clear that it is not more valuable to me than my wife -- I'm not stupid. Besides, she reads everything that I write.

For that matter, this admission would be "un-Jobs-like": The company's late founder would seek to remind anyone with such misguided convictions that not only are their priorities misplaced, but they're perhaps less than human.

I know you're wondering "Richard, where are you going with this?" Allow me to explain...

The results of a recent CBS poll published by Vanity Fair revealed that one out of six Americans would rather lose a significant other than their money. I'm not going to sit here and pass judgment on anyone for their views as I understand every situation is different. However, I'm not sure exactly what to make of the data or how I should receive it.

The mere fact that I am not the least bit surprised by this statistic concerns me. After all, there have been many recent events to suggest the percentage of people who would rather save their investments than their spouse might actually be overly conservative.

Nevertheless, it did cause me to reflect on my reasons for having become an investor, reasons that draw many adjectives that (admittedly) I'm not entirely proud of -- "greed" being one of them.

Here's what I've discovered. In some respects, I've taken on the characteristics of some of the leaders of companies in which I've invested -- companies that have included software and database giants Microsoft ( MSFT) and Oracle ( ORCL).

I can't imagine a CEO more clever than Bill Gates (although others would certainly debate me on that point). But his shrewdness has a dark side; it almost sent Apple into bankruptcy while killing off once dominant rivals such as Novell, Lotus, Netscape, WordPerfect and the list goes on and on. Is that me? Do I wish to dominate? Or have I merely come to appreciate Microsoft for the dominance that it personifies?

As for Oracle's CEO Larry Ellison, here's a man that I have long admired not only for his brilliance, but also for the fact that he sometimes appears content to step on toes while offering no apologies. When it comes to business there is arguably no one more calculated and sharp.

Regardless of how one feels about Ellison personally, there is a lot to like about his company -- a company that is well-positioned with deep offerings in a lot of important areas. As cloud computing becomes more and more significant, Oracle is going to play a major role.

One should not underestimate the resolve of good management -- particularly when spiced with a bit of anger. I think my investment approach is similar -- a determined anger and wanting nothing more than to be right, to "beat Wall Street."

But how far does that go? Should success come at the expense of my family or forgetting what my priorities are or should be? Should portfolio values ever trump family values?

In the case for Apple, a company that I have described as a heavenly stock, but a devil of a company, it remains a challenge not to admire and to emulate its style of accomplishment.

Whatever the company touches turns to gold. It wins at everything and most recently even in court. The company was awarded $1 billion by a jury that found sufficient evidence to convict rival Samsung of several counts of patent infringement. But also, impressively, with one single verdict, Apple was able to weaken not only Samsung but also chief nemesis Google ( GOOG).

However, what has never escaped my thought process when assessing the significance of my investment in the company were the qualities and values of its founder Steve Jobs. More important to him than money (or going "thermonuclear" on rivals like Google) were people. His greatest motivation was seeing things such as smiles, amazement, surprises, awe and laughter by doing things that no one has ever done before or thought was possible.

I will go out on a limb and say he succeeded. So by virtue of these qualities, holding a piece of Apple today as the stock is now approaching $700 per share, as valuable as it may be, will never exceed the value of my wife, not least because Jobs would not want it that way.

At the time of publication, the author was long AAPL and held no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Richard Saintvilus is a private investor with an information technology and engineering background and has been investing and trading for over 15 years. He employs conservative strategies in assessing equities and appraising value while minimizing downside risk. His decisions are based in part on management, growth prospects, return on equity and price-to-earnings as well as macroeconomic factors. He is an investor who seeks opportunities whether on the long or short side and believes in changing positions as information changes.

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