One of the frustrating things for shareholders is how readily companies give away stock. A huge company like Apple has been giving away huge amounts of stock (through stock options) even while adding tens of billions in cash to their stockpile.
Outstanding stock for Apple
Jan 2006 – 848 million shares
Jan 2007 – 862 million shares
Jan 2008 – 879 million shares
Jan 2009 – 891 million shares
Jan 2010 – 907 million shares
Jan 2011 – 921 million shares
Jan 2012 – 932 million shares
Jan 2013 – 939 million shares
So even in the last year, while promoting a $10 billion buyback – the net result was 7 million more shares (not fewer as a “buyback” suggests); it did reduce the amount of increase to less than it has been recently. 7 million more shares * $425 = $2.975 billion more stock in place. If Apple uses $50 billion more to buy back stock that would allow purchase of 100 million shares at $500 a share ($500 is less than I would guess the average price will be, but we will see what actually happens). That would get the share balance back to the Jan 2006 level, if there were not huge new additions during the buyback period (which there probably will be).
Companies certainly like to heavily publicize share buyback programs. They don’t trumpet how much additional stock they issue each year with the same zeal (most of which, for successful companies not in desperate need for cash, is provided through extremely sweetheart stock options for executives and board members at the expense of diluting stockholder’s equity – the easiest form of excessive executive pay to give away as it doesn’t cost the company cash).
It will be interesting to see to what extent share buybacks actually decrease the share balance and to what extent they just eliminate the exploding issuance of shares Apple has engaged in while piling up the largest cash reserves ever recorded.
Given Apple’s financial position I do not believe diluting stockholders equity by issuing huge amounts of stock was a wise policy the last 7 years. I think reversing that policy is wise. Buying back the stock they gave away is sensible but it would have been wiser not to give so much away in the first place. I’ll be surprised, and happy, if the outstanding share balance drops below 890 million (the Jan 2009 figure).
I do think Apple is a great buy at these levels (I bought some more last week). The earnings reported today are not as spectacular as those reported recently but they still made a profit of $9.5 billion in the quarter (and had positive cash flow of $12.5 billion bringing total cash on hand to $145 billion). It isn’t like this is a company that is failing. It is just a company that isn’t growing earnings as rapidly. They are still earning enormous amounts of cash.
The decline in margins is disappointing (but not surprising) but the margins are still great (just not as amazingly great as recently). The worry over further declines in margins seems justified to me and is one of the big risks for the stock going forward. I think margins will remains at a level that justifies a much higher price than the stock has today, but only time will tell.
I would have liked to see the dividend increase more, but a dividend increase was a good move.
No, it is not time to sell Apple, if your portfolio is not already too heavily overweighted in Apple it would make sense to buy. There is about as much wrong with Apple today as Toyota 3 years ago, which means essentially nothing is wrong. Yes, neither company is perfect. Maybe people were carried away with how awesome Apple was, but I don’t think the stock price every was.
Apple was a great buy at $700. Of course in the same situation buying it at $500 would be even better. I think it is a great buy at $500 today. I think Apple is going to move ahead just as Toyota has the last few years. The people jumping around at every single rumor of a data point are going beyond reacting to each data point they are reacting to rumors of data points.
I could be wrong. If Apple’s earnings cave over the next 5 years people can claim they say early signals. After a long time watching investors react to data and rumors and speculation I think they are just being foolish. Even if Apple is deteriorating, there needs to be a much better explanation for why investors should believe that than I have seen.
The best reason to question Apple is how long of a run they are on. Figuring the “law” of convergence in mean should make investors wary. That isn’t really true but that idea – that you just don’t stay on such a run (especially when you are huge and the have the largest market capitalization in the world).
But that is more just saying Toyota can’t keep being awesome. There is some sense that most likely they will stumble. But the problem is it is more likely about every other company will stumble first. The winners keep winning more than they start failing. But they also do often start failing. 100 years from now there is a decent chance Apple doesn’t exist. But there is a greater change most of the other companies you can invest in won’t. And there is a greater chance most other investments will do worse than Apple. That is my guess. Other investors get to place their money where there mouth is and we will see in 5 and 10 years how things stand.
I’ll stick with Apple and Toyota and Google and Danaher and Intel and….
The 12 stock for 10 years portfolio consists of stocks I would be comfortable putting into an IRA for 10 years. The main criteria is for companies with a history of large positive cash flow, that seemed likely to continue that trend.
Since April of 2005 the portfolio Marketocracy* calculated annualized rate or return (which excludes Tesco) is 7.1% (the S&P 500 annualized return for the period is 5.4%).
Marketocracy subtracts the equivalent of 2% of assets annually to simulate management fees – as though the portfolio were a mutual fund – so without that (it is not like this portfolio takes much management), the return beats the S&P 500 annual return by about 370 basis points annually (9.1% – 5.4%). And I think the 370 basis point “beat” of the S&P rate is really under-counting as the 200 basis point “deduction” removes what would be assets that would be increasing (so the gains that would have been made on the non-existing deductions in the real world – are missing). Tesco reduces the return, still I believe the rate would stay above a 300 basis point advantage.
The current stocks, in order of return:
|Stock||Current Return||% of sleep well portfolio now||% of the portfolio if I were buying today|
|Amazon – AMZN||473%||11%||8%|
|Google – GOOG||252%||18%||15%|
|PetroChina – PTR||104%||6%||6%|
|Apple – AAPL||94%||15%||13%|
|Templeton Dragon Fund – TDF||84%||6%||4%|
|Danaher – DHR||60%||10%||10%|
|Templeton Emerging Market Fund – EMF||43%||5%||8%|
|Pfizer – PFE||6%||6%||7%|
|Toyota – TM||5%||7%||12%|
|Intel – INTC||1%||5%||7%|
|Cisco – CSCO||-3%||3%||4%|
|Tesco – TSCDY||-18%**||0%*||5%|
The current marketocracy results can be seen on the Sleep Well marketocracy portfolio (the site broke the link, so I removed the link).
The stock market capitalization by country gives some insight into how countries, and stocks, are doing. Looking at the total market capitalization by country doesn’t equate to the stock holdings by individuals in a country or the value of companies doing work in a specific country.
In the chart, I divided the world total by 3: just to make the chart look better. The USA was 32.5% of the total in 1990. The USA grew to 46.9% as the tech, finance and housing bubbles were all underway (also Japan was stagnating and the Chinese stock market hadn’t started booming to a significant extent). In 2010 the USA was back down to 31.4%. This will likely continue to decrease (at a much slower pace – I wouldn’t be surprised to see the USA at 25% in 2020) as the rest of the world’s markets continue to grow more quickly.
As with so much recent economic data China’s performance here is remarkable and Japan’s is distressing. China grew from nothing in 1990 to the 2nd largest country in 2010. Hong Kong add another $1 trillion to China’s $4.5 trillion. Canada is the only country above $2 trillion not included on this chart. China grew by $4 trillion from 2005 to 2010.
Related: Don’t Expect to Spend Over 4% of Your Retirement Investment Assets Annually – Top 10 Countries for Manufacturing Production from 1980 to 2010 -
Investment Risk Matters Most as Part of a Portfolio, Rather than in Isolation – Government Debt as Percent of GDP 1998-2010
Apple posted quarterly revenue of $39.2 billion and quarterly net profit of $11.6 billion, or $12.30 per share (an increase of 94% in net income). These results compare to revenue of $24.7 billion and net profit of $6.0 billion, or $6.40 per diluted share, for the same quarter in 2011. Apple’s Gross margin was 47.4% (the best ever) compared to 41.4% in the year-ago quarter. International sales accounted for 64% of the quarter’s revenue.
Apple sold 35.1 million iPhones in the quarter, 88% unit growth over the year-ago quarter. Apple sold 11.8 million iPads during the quarter, a 151% unit increase over the year-ago quarter. And they sold 4 million Macs during the quarter, a 7% unit increase over the year-ago quarter. Apple sold 7.7 million iPods, a 15% unit decline from the year-ago quarter.
“Our record March quarter results drove $14 billion in cash flow from operations,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO. “Looking ahead to the third fiscal quarter, we expect revenue of about $34 billion and diluted earnings per share of about $8.68.” Don’t be surprised to see Apple significantly beat these numbers, they usually provide “estimates” that are far bellow what results turn out to be.
Apple built their cash stockpile to over $110 billion. Even paying the dividend that they have announced, they are going to be building their cash stockpile going forward without some amazingly large purchases. The announced dividend will cost Apple about $10 billion annually. I wish Apple would increase the dividend. They have also announced a plan to repurchase about $10 billion in stock starting in about 6 months. That would be a huge commitment for most companies, for Apple it seems to be about 2 months of cash the business will generate. I worry they will make foolish purchases just because having that much sitting in the bank makes it so easy.
The results are again fantastic. Apple’s stock price, relative to earnings, continues to be very reasonable (even cheap). Increases in the stock price have been more than outpaced by profit growth. It does seems profit growth has to slow, and likely dramatically (of course it seemed incredibly unreasonable to expect increases of even 33% of what Apple has done in the last 3 years). The stock price is not expensive, even if earnings growth collapsed, which it isn’t expected to do in the next year. On fundamental factors the stock remains very attractive.
The biggest risk is that when so much has gone so right for Apple for so long aren’t they poised to suffer some major setbacks? I can accept the case for a dramatic slowing in earning for the iPhone, which is their primary driver of earnings. It is hardly certain but there is this potential. I don’t foresee significant actual declines (earning less in 2013 than 2012, for example). But even assuming no growth in iPhone profits from 2013 to 2016 at this price Apple seems to be a good investment (and few expect no growth for iPhone earning for that period). iPhone sales now account for 58% of Apple’s revenue; three years ago, they totaled 27% of revenue.
Other areas should be strong in 2012, 2013 and beyond: iPads, Macs, iTunes and App sales. And everyone is expecting some huge new product or products. The leading candidate is a new Apple TV that actually makes a big move into the market. The stock price doesn’t even need some big new product but if it comes that is just more reason to be positive on Apple as an investment.
I don’t see any signs of troubles brewing. The only reason to be nervous is that it seems crazy that such extraordinary success on such a huge scale can continue. That can explain being nervous but it doesn’t justify missing out on this attractive investment.
Related: Apple’s Impossibly Good Quarter – The Economy is Weak and Prospects May be Grim, But Many Companies Have Rosy Prospects (Sept 2011) – Leadership quotes from Steve Jobs – Intel Reports Their Best Quarter Ever (March 2010) – 12 stocks for 10 years portfolio
Tesco is in my 12 stocks for 10 years portfolio. One of the big reasons I bought is management’s commitment to using good management practices, in particular lean thinking (based on Toyota’s management principles). These principles include: investing in the long term, customer focus, respect for employees.
With those practices in place and the good international expansion potential (including the USA) the opportunities are good (thus I liked the investment). Short term hiccups don’t really bother me. I would rather avoid them but I can accept them. The think that worries me about Tesco is I am becoming less and less convinced they are committed to lean management principles. Instead they seem to just be practicing the same lame management that so many companies employ. They can still be successful that way but the lost value to shareholders is great and makes me very close to deciding to eliminate my investment. I already sold half of the position, last year.
I now live in Malaysia and the Tesco’s here are horrible. There is no evidence of customer focus. They have lousy “fresh” (often not) vegetables. It is very easy to be sloppy as you expand. They obviously are not concerned enough to practice lean thinking in Malaysia. That is a concern. But large organizations often struggle to manage themselves competently and one small area ignoring lean thinking principles isn’t enough to say Tesco is ignoring them completely. More and more evidence is pointing to Tesco being sloppy and ignore lean thnking, however.
The main current financial problems are in the home market issues not directly related to lean thinking. Those I could easily chose to wether, if I believe the company is committed to smart lean management principle, but I am not any longer (sadly). For me, I need to see more evidence of commitment to lean principles or I will likely sell out my investment.
Another problem I have is Amazon was my other retail investment and I have significant valuation concerns – I am closer to selling more than buying more (I have sold some). I have long been looking at Costco – I would have been much better off buying it over Tesco I am still considering it (I would love to buy Costco, it is just a valuation concern that holds me back, the company and the future prospects look great).
I lost no faith in Toyota (another stock in my sleep well portfolio) during the recent struggles. There were some slip-ups. Toyota’s responses were great – just as I would expect. Mainly the stories were greatly overblown.
Pitfalls in Retirement (pdf) is quite a good white paper from Meril Lynch, I strongly recommend it.
could safely spend 10% or more of their savings each year.
But, as explained below, the respondents most on target were the one in 10 who estimated sustainable spending rates to be 5% or less. This is significantly impacted by life expectancy; if you have a much lower life expectancy due to retiring later or significant health issues perhaps you can spend more. But counting on this is very risky.
This is likely one of the top 5 most important things to know about saving for retirement (and just 10% of the population got the answer right). You need to know that you can safely spend 5%, or likely less, of your investment assets safely in retirement (without dramatically eating into your principle.
The chart is actually quite good, the paper also includes another good example (which is helpful in showing how much things can be affected by somewhat small changes*). One piece of good news is they assume much larger expense rates than you need to experience if you choose well. They assume 1.3% in fees. You can reduce that by 100 basis points using Vanguard. They also have the portfolio split 50% in stocks (S&P 500) and 50% in bonds.
Several interesting points can be drawn from this data. One the real investment returns matter a great deal. A 4% withdrawal rate worked until the global credit crisis killed investment returns at which time the sustainability of that rate disappeared. A 5% withdrawal rate lasted nearly 30 years (but you can’t count on that at all, it depends on what happens with you investment returns).
Warren Buffett continues to write his excellent annual shareholder letter. It is a pleasure to read them every year. I have selected a few passages to include:
Charlie and I don’t expect to win many of you over to our way of thinking – we’ve observed enough human behavior to know the futility of that – but we do want you to be aware of our personal calculus. And here a confession is in order: In my early days I, too, rejoiced when the market rose. Then I read Chapter Eight of Ben Graham’s The Intelligent Investor, the chapter dealing with how investors should view fluctuations in stock prices. Immediately the scales fell from my eyes, and low prices became my friend. Picking up that book was one of the luckiest moments in my life.
Investors face challenges within their own psychology. This is one, but not the only one.
Many insurers pass the first three tests and flunk the fourth. They simply can’t turn their back on business that their competitors are eagerly writing. That old line, “The other guy is doing it so we must as well,” spells trouble in any business, but in none more so than insurance. Indeed, a good underwriter needs an independent mindset akin to that of the senior citizen who received a call from his wife while driving home. “Albert, be careful,” she warned, “I just heard on the radio that there’s a car going the wrong way down the Interstate.” “Mabel, they don’t know the half of it,” replied Albert, “It’s not just one car, there are hundreds of them.”
Tad has observed all four of the insurance commandments, and it shows in his results. General Re’s huge float has been better than cost-free under his leadership, and we expect that, on average, it will continue to be. In the first few years after we acquired it, General Re was a major headache. Now it’s a treasure.
The insurance business is explained well in this, and his other shareholder letter.
Apple has been performing amazingly well for years. They keep producing blockbuster hits over and over. Not only are these hits enormously popular they are enormously profitable.
The only real objections to Apple’s stock I can see are: the overall market value is so huge it just has to collapse (over $400 billion – the largest in the world) or it has to be time for a huge reversal of fortunes.
The problem with the view that it will fall is that the stock is very cheap by any rational measure. You are not paying much for all the earnings. Even if Apple does not continue the trend of the last 5 years, if it just stopped growing altogether, it is still cheap (if it does continue that trend it will break $1 trillion by 2014 – but I don’t think it will). The biggest risk is the profit margin shrinks drastically. That is possible. It is even somewhat likely to shrink a fair amount. But there isn’t much reason to think revenues will not grow. And to me, the current price makes sense only if revenues fall and profit margins fall. It takes the worst case scenario to make this stock seem overpriced.
The data on the last quarter (and for 2011 overall) are impossible (except they actually happened).
- record quarterly revenue of $46.33 billion ($26.74 billion in 2010)
- record quarterly net profit of $13.06 billion ($6 billion in 2010)
- Gross margin was 44.7 percent compared to 38.5 percent in the year-ago quarter
- $17.5 billion in cash flow from operations during the quarter (and $38 billion in the last year)
- $100 billion in cash now ($97.6 billion to be exact but since the data was gathered they probably passed $100 billion anyway). That is more than the market cap of all but 52 companies in the world.
You can’t grow quarterly sales from $26.7 billion to $46.3 billion. $26 million to $46 million, fine that is possible, billions however – not possible. Except Apple did. You can’t grow a $6 billion quarterly profit to $13 billion in 1 year. Except Apple did. You can’t generate a cash flow of $17.5 billion in a quarter. Except Apple did. You can’t have a stockpile of $100 billion in cash. Except Apple does. These figures would not have been seen as unlikely just 3 years ago. They were impossible. But Apple achieved them.
These figures are not short term blips. They are the latest in a long stream of amazingly results.
Apple has numerous, incredibly strong businesses. Each could be the linchpin of an extremely valuable company.
- iPhone initial sales and reoccurring income (over 50% of Apple’s revenue)
- app sales (for iPhones, iPads and Macs)
- Their retail store business – selling all their products
The 12 stock for 10 years portfolio consists of stocks I would be comfortable putting into an IRA for 10 years. The main criteria is for companies with a history of large positive cash flow, that seemed likely to continue that trend. I am considering adding Abbot to the portfolio, and maybe dropping Cisco.
Since April of 2005 the portfolio Marketocracy* calculated annualized rate or return (which excludes Tesco) is 5.7% (the S&P 500 annualized return for the period is 3.9%). Marketocracy subtracts the equivalent of 2% of assets annually to simulate management fees – as though the portfolio were a mutual fund – so without that (it is not like this portfolio takes much management), the return beats the S&P 500 annual return by about 380 basis points annually (it would be a bit less with Tesco, but still close above 3%, I would think – calculating rates of return with purchases and sales and dividends is a complete pain, which is one reason Marketocracy is so nice).
The current stocks, in order of return:
|Stock||Current Return||% of sleep well portfolio now||% of the portfolio if I were buying today|
|Amazon – AMZN||350%||9%||7%|
|Google – GOOG||187%||17%||14%|
|PetroChina – PTR||115%||8%||6%|
|Templeton Dragon Fund – TDF||85%||8%||7%|
|Templeton Emerging Market Fund – EMF||44%||5%||7%|
|Danaher – DHR||43%||10%||10%|
|Apple – AAPL||42%||9%||9%|
|Intel – INTC||18%||6%||6%|
|Cash (likely to be ABT soon)||-||4%||6%|
|Cisco – CSCO||-2%||5%||4%|
|Toyota – TM||-8%||8%||12%|
|Pfizer – PFE||-9%||6%||7%|
|Tesco – TSCDY||-13%**||0%*||5%|
The current marketocracy results can be seen on the Sleep Well marketocracy portfolio page.