The following commentary was originally sent to Action Alerts PLUS subscribers on Feb. 24, 2016, at 4:50 p.m.
Have you noticed that they've tried to throw everything at Apple (AAPL) but the kitchen sink and the darned thing won't come down?
First, we know the obvious: The company's refusal to give up the code to the FBI, something that has earned it the enmity of Republican Party front-runner Donald Trump, who is calling for a boycott of the company. Hate him or like him, he's got more airtime than anyone on Earth, and if he chooses to hammer Apple it won't be positive for sales. (Apple is part of TheStreet's Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio.)
Second, if Apple does give up the codes, what happens to sales in China? Won't the Chinese want the codes? China's the big growth market for the company. It would be a natural for the party to join Trump in a boycott of Apple products, except this one would be pretty effective given that the Communist Party is a totalitarian organization.
Third, we have been getting more of these channel-check studies of late where brokers trip over each other to say Apple's sales are going to be horrendous and that cellphones have peaked. We get one a day. They all try to outdo each other in being negative. This most recent one I read, from some outfit I don't even know, said iPhone demand will drop 18% year over year and there's a lot of excess inventory.
I know there could be excess inventory because Apple's about to launch an iPhone 7 in the fall. If you are at this stage of the year and you don't have a 6 or if you don't want to change carriers and upgrade, it may make sense to hold off to see how exciting the next one might be.
Plus, we are hearing reports that Apple's going to have a March event where a new iteration of the Apple Watch might come out.
What could it have? CEO Tim Cook has said he doesn't want to subject the watch to the FDA process, but that doesn't mean there could be apps made by others that could help turn the watch into more than just a cool device that tells you to stand up and walk around.
Maybe at that meeting the company will take the time to talk about the expanding service revenue that's coming from a billion devices sold, something that's bringing in about $30 billion in sales. Let's put it this way: I wouldn't be betting on a negative surprise.
Perhaps more important than all of this is that Apple's got a buyback of immense proportions and it is entirely possible that it is standing there buying stock knowing that when the company reports next it will be the last quarter before the new iteration, the 7, might be coming out. Apple knows that more than anyone, right?
Considering that CEO Lowell McAdam of Verizon (VZ) and CEO John Legere of T-Mobile (TMUS) , two of the big four, have told me personally the 7 will be a big deal for them, I think selling it now with everyone aware that Apple's going to have a weak quarter may be a little counterintuitive.
Funny that when everyone knows something's negative, it tends to be baked into the stock already.
And at 10x earnings? Maybe, just maybe, the bad news is in, but the good news?
Let's just say I don't know of a soul who's looking for any.