With Apple Back Near Lows, Should You Buy?
It had appeared that Apple had bottomed out in April after hitting $385 just days before earnings. When the company reported its most recent figures, it took time for investors to digest the new information since Apple made a shockingly large increase to its capital return program and also said it would be partially be funding it with debt.
Shares rallied as high as $465 over the following weeks, a gain of 21% from those lows, as investors seemingly began to appreciate the $50 billion in additional planned share repurchases that Apple would be making through 2015.
However, Apple has now given up nearly all of those gains since then and traded below $389 this morning -- just a few dollars away from tapping a fresh 52-week low.
With shares revisiting those lows, let's revisit Apple's dirt-cheap valuation.
Apple's earnings multiple is now back into single-digit territory, trading at just 9.3 times earnings. For reference, the broader S&P 500 is currently trading at 18.6 times earnings. Backing out the $154 per share in net cash on the books brings that figure down to 5.7 times earnings ex-cash.
Speaking of Apple's immense cash position: the growing money mountain is a key reason why Google just surpassed Apple in enterprise value. If we include other metrics like enterprise value-to-EBITDA and price-to-free-cash-flow, Apple looks even cheaper relative to the search giant.
However, there's something to be said about the growth deceleration that Apple is facing. Last quarter, Google's revenue growth of 31% outpaced Apple's 11% gain up top.
It turns out that Apple's primary hardware rival Samsung also trades at cheap multiples. The South Korean conglomerate is currently trading at eight times earnings and 9.9 times free cash flow. It seems that the investor pessimism is more about the high-end smartphone market that's becoming saturated, while the low-end to mid-range segments are where the growth is now coming from. Google is able to escape this pessimism in part because smartphones aren't its core business.
But with rock-bottom prices, investors are effectively ignoring the possibility of Apple entering new product categories and market segments. Even though Apple's smartphone business is maturing, the company is getting much less respect than other mature tech giants. On a P/E basis, Microsoft is nearly twice as expensive as Apple, despite Windows 8's cold reception.
Apple still has "game changers" up its sleeve. When it decides to launch into these new markets, investors will regret not giving the Mac maker more respect.
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The article With Apple Back Near Lows, Should You Buy? originally appeared on Fool.com.Fool contributor Evan Niu, CFA, owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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