Assessing Apple's $200 Billion Tumble: Is it Still a Worthy Investment?Large Caps 2 replies 0 likes 0 votes 34 views
On September 15, 2023, Apple Inc. (AAPL) experienced a significant setback, shedding over $200 billion in market capitalization in just two days. I feel it's crucial to dissect what led to this dramatic tumble and, more importantly, to assess whether Apple is still a worthwhile investment at its current price point.
Apple, once a behemoth with a market cap surpassing $3 trillion, has consistently demonstrated its dominance in the tech industry. Its sales figures alone dwarf the GDP of entire nations, and its aggressive stock buybacks have been nothing short of awe-inspiring. But even giants can falter, and Apple's recent decline has been a wake-up call for investors.
For years, Apple traded at a premium valuation, hovering around 32X earnings, which was a bit of a stretch given its steadily slowing growth rate. While its products are akin to modern-day utilities, trading at a lofty 37X earnings for such a company seemed irrational.
Notably, some analysts, like Danny Ives of Wedbush, maintained an unwavering bullish stance on Apple, predicting a swift resurgence to $240 per share within a year. But history tells us that Apple has rarely seen such sky-high valuations, with previous instances during the tech bubble peak and the pandemic tech mania leading to significant declines.
Apple's product lineup, from its high-end iPhones to its luxury watches, exudes brand power that few can rival. Its ecosystem boasts over 100 products, with a staggering 1.4 billion installed devices used by a billion customers worldwide. Furthermore, the prospect of an Apple Car potentially generating $50 billion in sales by 2030 adds to its allure.
However, even with its brand's enduring strength, Apple isn't immune to challenges. A recent hiccup emerged when China announced restrictions on iPhones for central government employees. While this sent Apple's stock down 6%, China clarified that it had no plans to ban iPhones or foreign phones altogether. This incident served as a reminder that Apple's premium valuation had outpaced its actual growth.
The growth consensus for Apple is now a modest 7.4%, with a yield of 0.6%. Deutsche Bank even suggests that Realty Income may outperform Apple in the long run. These numbers indicate that Apple's days of delivering spectacular annual returns are behind it.
Analysts collectively project that, even if Apple meets expectations and returns to fair value, investors can expect inflation-adjusted returns around zero through 2025. Looking further ahead, a consensus suggests 6% annual returns through 2029, including dividends.
To make Apple an attractive investment again, it would require a substantial discount—25% or more for the next six years—to achieve the kind of returns it was once known for. This shift paints a picture of Apple as a defensive luxury brand, likely to weather economic storms, but unlikely to deliver the eye-popping returns of its past.
So, is it time to buy Apple? Well, it depends on your investment goals. For dividend growth investors, Apple may not be appealing until its yield improves. Growth investors may find better prospects elsewhere, given Apple's 9% projected growth rate. Index investors, however, will find it challenging to ignore Apple's dominance in various indices.
It remains a solid core holding for most investors, but the days of Apple generating the kind of returns seen in the post-pandemic era seem to be over. In essence, Apple is still a giant, but it's transitioning into a new phase—one that demands more realistic expectations from investors.