NEW YORK ( Real Money) -- It goes up quietly, almost stealthily, pretty much every single week. It's not talked about much at all these days, including today.
But it's a big underpinning of this market and we must never forget that. I am talking about Apple (AAPL) . We may focus on the gyrations of Alibaba (BABA) and its sidekick, Yahoo (YHOO) . We may marvel at the possibilities for Twitter (TWTR) if only management understood the true gem that it has. We may be fascinated by how Macy's (M) rallied despite a cut in its forecast.
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Nevertheless, Apple is the leader, and that in itself is amazing, given everything we ever thought possible about any one particular stock in this market. Here you have the largest stock in the world -- $651 billion market cap -- and the darned thing is up an astounding 41% for the year. On Thursday, it hit its all-time high at $113.45. We expect that from the stock of a company that's been taken over. Or maybe a junior growth stock. Or a biotech with a red-hot product. But from the biggest company in the world? Who would believe it?
Now I want to deal for a moment with all the noise stocks, to get a line on them for you. First up is Alibaba. Here's a stock that ran up into Singles' Day, which we know is Christmas, Hanukah, Valentine's Day and your birthday all rolled into one.
No stock could maintain the momentum this one exhibited going into the holiday, and it caused a rough reversal that spooked people and caused a lot of newbies who chased it up to get burned badly. This stock -- which is valued more cheaply than Facebook (FB) , however, and bears no resemblance to the ridiculous price of Amazon (AMZN) -- bounced right back on Wednesday. How could it not? Singles Day saw an acceleration in revenue above current numbers, which just makes the claque clap louder.
We keep hearing about angry shareholders of Yahoo! and how some are agitating to have Tim Armstrong, CEO of AOL (AOL) , merge with Yahoo! and run the joint giving, Marissa "Do Nothing" Mayer the boot.
OK, let's deal with the stupidity of that head on. Yahoo! under Mayer is up 24% for the year. AOL's stock is actually off about a percent. Analogize to the NFL. You want to dump the coach of the league-leading Arizona Cardinals for the coach of the Oakland Raiders? You want to sack Bill Bellichek for Rex Ryan? Be my guest.
Now I hear endlessly that all Mayer has done right is to be able to beg off selling 120 million shares of Alibaba on the IPO, a deal lined up by a previous CEO. She would have left more than $6 billion on the table. People don't want to credit her with that, but let's understand that had she just let things slide when she got in and not smoothed over rustled feathers with the owners of Alibaba, the company would have lost out on the easiest money, perhaps to make the hardest money, in some acquisition that may or may not have panned out.
I applaud Mayer for three reasons. One, she didn't double down on her existing advertising business as it's no longer a sure-fire way to make money. Two, she husbanded lots of cash for a better moment where valuations have come down, and they have, allowing her to buy BrightRoll, a video ad service for $640 million. This could end up being a smart acquisition simply because video is the only place on the Web where advertising dollars haven't plummeted. Finally, she's been an amazing buyer of her stock, again something that was a much better bet than throwing more money on disparate business lines.
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