Apple

The numbers are astonishing: $2 trillion market cap. Give or take, about the same as the entire market cap of the FTSE 100. Daily moves in the share price amount to the GDP of small countries. Sri Lanka one day, Bulgaria the next. Indeed there are now not many countries with a GDP bigger than $2 trillion. A glance at the #APPL handle on Twitter gives a taste for the recent run. Gleeful emojis scattered like confetti. What then to make of the current share price, where many active mutual fund managers remain wide-eyed, looking on, uninvolved? Apple is a unique company, an ’ecosystem’, a brand, a vision; a company with millions of devoted disciples. Hundreds of millions. “We know that these products” spoke CFO Luca Maestri on the recent blow-out earnings call, “are incredibly relevant, especially given the current circumstances”.  Indeed they are. Bulls holler and fist pump and point to the services arm, now almost 40% of profits. They jabber about sticky customers and resilient cash flow. And 5G is coming. There is no doubt that Apple has skipped through the pandemic, and a squeeze on the multiple was warranted; but more than a 30x PE multiple on next year’s consensus earnings number has a whiff of last orders at the bar. Just as the retail money piles in blowing the top off the chart. The value in Apple is in the size of its user base. All of the flashy and innovative products – services, watches, earbuds – all hang off the iPhone. These new products have delighted the devotees and carved new revenue streams, but despite these hits, Apples five year revenue CAGR is paltry, a mere low single-digit. Low-single digit revenue growth for 30x, double the stock’s historic average multiple. The market capitalisation is now roughly eleven times larger than Exxon, the old economy stalwart just dumped from the Dow Jones Index. A contrarian’s dilemma. For Apple, the coming 5G super cycle had better be good. Very good.