The Apple Investor: Apple Stock Blasts To Another New High, Now Worth As Much As Walmart

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Apple (AAPL) Blasts To Another New High


Once again, Apple shares have hit an all-time high, reaching a market cap ($204 billion) greater than that of Berkshire Hathaway ($203) and closing in on Walmart ($204). Apple stock traded up with the NASDAQ yesterday, closing at $225.  At this level, the shares are trading at a pricey but not outrageous valuation of 19x estimated fiscal-year 2010 EPS and 18x Enterprise Value / Trailing Twelve Months Free Cash Flow (TTMFCF).  Not that the stock needs any encouragement, but potential upcoming catalysts include the iPad hitting stores in the US in early April as well as Australia and the UK later in the month; the March quarter earnings release; the release of the next generation iPhone this summer; and progression or resolution of the HTC lawsuit.

Android And Blackberry Gaining Share Against iPhone In Mobile Internet Consumption
Total mobile web consumption is increasing rapidly, according to a monthly report out from Quantcast. Apple’s iPhone has 64% of mobile web consumption but Google’s Android OS is starting to gain share after a couple years of lagging far behind Apple. Google’s share increased about 8% in February 2010 to 15.2% of the market and has nearly doubled in the past year. Apple’s share decreased 3.2% from January to February. Blackberry reversed the downward trend it experienced last year, increasing 13.2% to 9.2% share. As the pie continues to grow rapidly, Apple’s loss of share is not cause for alarm, but the gains illustrate that this will be a competitive market. It will be interesting to see if the iPhone 4.0 OS launching this summer will have an impact on these figures.

Android Operating System Continues To Gain Share As iPhone OS Lags
Want to know why why Google’s Android keeps Steve Jobs awake at night? In a mobile subscriber report on the latest quarter, comScore shows that Android registered the largest market share gains of the five leading U.S. smartphone operating systems. Verizon, while they may see an opportunity with Apple, has done an incredible job at marketing the launch of the Motorola Droid as well as Google with the major media attention for the Nexus One. Those efforts have paid off as Android more than doubled its market share over the previous quarter, jumping more than 250% from 2.8% of the U.S. smartphone market to 7.1%. Much of that market share increase came at the expense of Microsoft, which finally unveiled the next generation Windows Phone 7 platform. The iPhone saw a statistically irrelevant increase. Could the Apple iPhone be reaching a saturation point when it comes to consumer adoption? We will see with this summer’s launch of the iPhone 4 OS.

iTunes In The Cloud Will Increase Traffic With Greater SEO Potential
(The Apple Blog)
There is no doubt that with the acquisition of Lala, Apple is migrating iTunes to the cloud. But what does that mean? Weldon Dodd of The Apple Blog says moving iTunes to a web-based system will have a huge impact on how we find (search for) iTunes media content (including apps, etc.), especially when it comes to mobile. He takes an in depth look at the overall search engine optimization aspect of the transition. “The iTunes web preview pages are an enormous draw for search engines and consistently rank high in the results when searching for the names of apps.” That said, he also says the “iTunes preview has so far had little impact on how we use purchased media content.” Maybe, for now. But it could be argued that part of Apple’s strategy in moving iTunes online would be to enable outside sites to implement easier purchases of iTunes content without the hassle of loading up the software as required by the software system now. This decrease in friction could have huge business potential for Apple, which has historically thought of iTunes as just a small source of overall revenue. Partnerships with various music sites, like Pandora, could essentially become mini-iTunes based stores.

Dell Launching iPad-Killer With Help From Amazon And Google
The Dell Streak (no that’s not a typo) tablet will take on the iPad with a little help from Google and Amazon. Engadget has uncovered what appears to be a Dell presentation showing that the Google Android-powered Dell Streak tablet will include access to over 300,000 e-books in the Kindle store, over 11 million “songs and extras” in the Amazon MP3 download store and over 50,000 movies and television shows available for rental or purchase. This collaboration is set to give iTunes the first and serious run for its money just as the iPad (along with the Lala acquisition) is about to take Apple’s its content distribution where no system has gone before. The documents also indicate that users will have wireless (3G) access to the Kindle store with no hidden fees, services plans or hunting for a Wi-Fi connection. If that is true, Dell’s tablets would have a significant advantage over the iPad, which can only access the 3G network if you purchase the more expensive hardware and sign up for a monthly AT&T data plan. Flash issues aside, let’s see if the three companies can offer an experience as seamless and smooth as Apple.

Steve Jobs Is the 136th Richest Man In The World
In its annual list of the world’s billionaires, Forbes ranked Apple CEO Steve Jobs 136th place (tied with 6 others) with a net worth of $5.5 billion. Jobs’ net worth is up from $5.1 billion from just 6 months ago when Forbes ranked him in 178th place (October 2009). Other techies on the list: Bill Gates ranks number 2, Larry Ellison number 6, Steve Ballmer number 33 and Michael Dell number 37. Jobs is Disney’s largest individual shareholder by virtue of the company’s 2006 acquisition of Pixar and the continued rebound in Disney’s stock price has pushed his stake in the company to $4.2 billion. Not to mention, Apple’s stock has continued to soar and is up more than 150% over the past year.

Warning: iPhones Are Addictive And Can Make You More organised And Productive
Stanford University (ahem…go Bears!) recently released results of a survey of 200 iPhone-owning students and found that, on a scale from one to five, 10% were completely addicted, 34% were somewhat addicted and that only 6% said they were free and clear of any iPhone-related illness. According to LiveScience, the company which oversaw the survey, the most interesting observation was “just how identified people were with their iPhone. It was not so much with the object itself, but it had so much personal information that it became a kind of extension of the mind and a means to have a social life. It just kind of captured part of their identity.” The survey also found 75% of respondents admitted to falling asleep with their iPhone in bed (weird) and 69% were more likely to forget their wallet than their iPhone (guilty). In terms of practical use, more than 70% said their iPhone made them more organised, and 54% found the device makes them more productive. Hopefully for the stock, the consumer addiction escalates to Philip Morris like proportions. That is, without the government regulation and change in identity.

The Apple Investor
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