Apple leads the NASDAQ out of the wilderness

The NASDAQ came all the way back from being down 25 percent for the year to being slightly up as it surged yesterday.

A number of large tech stocks helped pull the index up, but none more than Apple (AAPL), which is up nearly 30 percent since the beginning of 2009.

Why Apple? For starters, it is one of the few companies that is in hardware, software, and content. The rise in its stock price can be viewed as a vote of confidence in the long-terms strengths of all three, particularly in the hands of a well-managed company with a good brand.

Investors seem to be willing to look past the fact that sales of Macs and iPods may be weak this quarter. The reasons is that the iPod still completely dominates the digital media player market. The Mac is still gaining market share in the PC industry.

Apple's operating system still appears to be taking market share from Windows. In the content business Apple is so dominant in music downloads that it recently raised some of the prices on iTunes songs. The rate at which Apple is getting into the video download market may make it dominant in that business as well.

If one stock has helped improve the image of tech stocks as good investments in a downturn, it is Apple.

Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.

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