Apple is one of the companies listed on the stock exchange that needs no introduction. Its new products, its stated intentions and the full details of its plans to dominate its sector do need continual updates. That's why I encourage investors to regularly visit "Hot News."
With its market cap of more than $409 billion the stock of Apple is worth more than all the shares of Exxon-Mobile ( XOM) and pays approximately the same 2.8% dividend yield. Yet at $436 per share Apple sells at a price-to-earnings-to growth ratio (5-year expected) of only 0.52.
Even though Apple spent more than $10.2 billion in 2012 it was still able to produce nearly $41 billion in free cash flow. As of March 30, the date of its latest quarterly report, its balance sheet indicated almost $148 billion in cash and securities. It has a 31% operating margin (TTM) and a 33.3% return on equity. On April 23 the company announced its staggering plans to return $100 billion to its shareholders through dividends and stock buybacks by the end of 2015. $60 billion will be stock buybacks, which according to Apple's press release makes it the largest share repurchase plan in history. Apple's leaders and developers seem to be keenly aware of what the public wants and needs. On Thursday for example, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the formation of a coalition of law enforcement agencies devoted to responding to what he called an "epidemic" of smartphone robberies. The agencies want a sort of "kill switch" that would leave smartphones useless and "dead" if they're stolen. Through no coincidence Apple had already announced at the developers' conference this week that such a feature would be part of its iOS7 software to be released this autumn.
I'm not saying that Apple never falls behind the consumer-demand "eight-ball." Yet this is just another poignant example that Apple has its fingers on the pulse of what motivates buyers and galvanizes consumer loyalty. Someday in retrospect Apple shares at $436 will look awfully cheap. At the time of publication the author is long AAPL. Follow @m8a2r1 This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.