Apple Stock Boom Reveals High Consumer Confidence

Shares of Apple, Inc. (AAPL) have increased by 18.8 percent from six months ago, closing at 498.68 on October 15. The rise demonstrates Apple’s boom in comparison with the S&P, which has seen only 6 percent growth in the same period, closing Tuesday at 1649.60.

Much support has been driven by the rollout of the company’s new iPhone 5S and lower-priced iPhone 5C, with the closing price jumping almost 8 points to its recent high of 506.17 on September 9, anticipating CEO Tim Cook’s scheduled September 10 announcement. Software developments in the third and fourth quarters, including the release of operating system iOS7 for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, and the emergence of free web-based music service iTunes Radio, have also pointed to the company’s continuing growth.

This week, news that Apple had named former Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts as their new Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Stores also provided a boost. After the October 14 announcement, stocks closed at 496.04, a 3.23 increase over the previous day’s closing price.

Healthy revenue reports in 2013 have also helped boost investor confidence, with a price jump from 418.99 to 440.51, the largest of the period, coming upon release of the third-quarter earnings report in July.

The stock’s success comes as its competitors in the phone industry have seen mixed results. With the company’s future in question, BlackBerry’s stock has declined sharply in six months from 13.71 to 8.15, a 40 percent drop. However, Nokia, producers of the Android-based Lumia, have seen prices more than double, moving from 3.44 to 6.92, suggesting that investors with an eye to the smartphone’s future are looking beyond the iPhone.

Apple’s rise also comes in conjunction with positive results for competitors in the computer tech sector. Investors’ interest in smart technology across the board was also borne out by an impressive 20 percent growth for Microsoft over the same period, exceeding Apple’s results. The computer manufacturing sector was less competitive, with Dell’s stock at 13.83 declining by 1.2 percent from six months ago and Hewlett-Packard’s closing price of 22.79 a 10 percent increase from April, but a significant drop-off from that stock’s summer highs.

While the Wall Street Journal has reported that fourth-quarter orders for the iPhone 5C were reduced due to lower than anticipated consumer demand, the same report also reveals that orders for the 5S model increased. With opening weekend sales for both models of over 9 million exceeding analysts’ predictions by two to three million, the higher price point of the 5S will likely also compensate for a more lukewarm response to the 5C.

Apple’s fair value P/E ratio of 12.43 also suggests that investors see stability in the company’s future, with the release of the fourth-quarter report on October 28 likely to reveal continued strong earnings.

(Written for DePaul University’s seminar in Business Reporting)

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