Why I Will Buy a MacBook, But Not Apple's Stock
As I followed TheStreet's live blog from the event, hosted by Chris Ciaccia, I repeatedly refreshed the "We'll be back. We're busy updating the Apple Store for you and will be back soon" page at Apple's Web site.
That downtime saved me about $2,500. You know how it goes. Given time to think about an unplanned purchase, your rational mind starts drawing the distinction between "wants" and "needs." Not that it matters, but I would guess Apple loses some impulse purchases from people like me by closing its online store for a few hours on days of major presentations.
In any event, I'm due for a new laptop by the end of the year. And it's all but given I will return to Mac. I'll keep my Windows machines (and probably even get Windows 8), but they'll serve as background screens and sync with my Windows Phone. To actually do work (and play), I am not sure how I can justify using anything other than this next-generation MacBook.
I'm not even a computer geek, in the hyper-nerdy sense of the word, but I am just giddy over this machine.
Even with the WWDC-related hype, AAPL could not muster a gain. It reversed with the rest of the market, presumably on concerns out of Spain and the rest of Europe.
I'm not so sure it was the macro weakness, though. If there was good reason for it to occur, Apple's stock would have bucked global trends and powered higher as the nerds and geeks from WWDC took off for lunch at one of the many Subways in downtown San Francisco.
AAPL tends to experience this sell the news we already know weakness after WWDC or some other heavily hyped event. In the past, the pullbacks surprised me. Not this time, though.
Going forward, Apple will need to blow away more than its devotees and members of the financial and tech media for the needle to move, meaningfully, on the stock.
Interestingly, many AAPL bulls have called the last year or two frustrating. That's remarkable, considering the 129% two-year and 78% one-year returns the stock produced. Investors, particularly the self-entitled and greedy ones, still complain because, as they see it, AAPL is pathetically undervalued. Despite the somewhat irritating pullbacks and, by traditional standards, low valuation, AAPL trends high over time.
And, certainly, that's what every Wall Street analyst and AAPL bull on Earth expects to see happen this time.
The stock peaked at $644 in April. It barely sniffed the $600 level once we moved into May. It's off about 11% from that intraday high. We may have entered a new era in which what everybody seems to think will (and should) happen no longer does. There's no such thing as destiny in the stock market.
No doubt about it -- Apple is the best company in the world. However, when you're on top, it becomes a whole 'nother ball game. It's not like it matters much in general, but, in AAPL's case, valuation means very little, if anything. Don't hang your hat on AAPL's stock price inevitably coming in line with its fair and righteous value.
Apple can announce all of the amazing things it announced on Monday at WWDC. It can woo the geeks. It can woo people like me. (I might actually end up buying a MacBook Pro with Retina Display before you finish reading this.)
It can do awesome things with Siri. It can outclass what amounts to the ongoing disappointments at Google
It can send you (and me) into a state of truly euphoric excitement. As I was waiting for the Apple Store to reopen online, I felt like I was hitting refresh at the Ticketmaster Web site ahead of a Springsteen concert. It's weird. I was nervous and jittery. My chest felt "fluttery." That's all fine and good, but, as an investor, it's at that point you need to, at the very least, reconsider plans to buy the stock of a company that plays with your emotions.
For AAPL to go up and stay up (as in, see $644 again and stay there), Apple needs to do more. That's not to say the company should have done it Monday, but there needs to be one more thing. Without one more thing -- a discounted MacBook Air, an iPad Mini, a new iPhone, all of the euphoria China can muster and really expensive toys for the suckers -- the bulls and fanboys will only be disappointed.
At the time of publication, the author was long MSFT.