With its recent dividend increases, share buy backs and insane customer loyalty, we wanted to take time and dive into Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock from a Dividned Investor’s standpoint, with a few competitors along the way.
My personal computer is approximately 9 years old. It’s just not any old computer that somehow lasted that long. It is an Apple product. From the sheer design, the flawless finish and gorgeous interface + build, well, this is a pure opportunity to be successful. From the Steve Job days to Tim Cook – no luster has been lost and from a business standpoint, AAPL has been very successful. Now, some readers may not like this, but I am including them in the Technology space and not the consumer, retail, etc.. space for the purpose of my discussion and analysis. They have perfect technology when it exists and either were entrepreneurial or took something to, put it simply, make it better. The laptop, the watch, the music player, the phone. Another thing that they have – brand loyalty. They make products that not only last almost 10 years, but these individuals are turning over their device for their next Apple product.
What’s interesting is that – you can average out the premium price that you pay for an Apple product and you more than likely are at par with what you may end up spending on an inferior product. However, those products have stepped their game up and heck – I think the other products from Google, Samsung, LG, etc. are very nice out there in the market, do not get me wrong there. Something about Apple, their design, build, and “spell” they place on you as a consumer is real and I’ve gone through it and witnessed it all before. This is all a combination of a great business model, to increase earnings and, my favorite, pump dividends and returns back to shareholders; which is the reason for my analysis.
- Dividend Yield – Funny, we have 3 different tiers of dividend – one below 2%, one above but below 3% and another above 3%. Honestly – in this situation if you are below 2% or the market as a whole you better have a great dividend growth rate. This is intriguing here, as INTC has had some dividend slow down in regards to growth (occasionally, they keep it the same such as in 2013/2014), I love Microsoft’s larger growth rate than AAPL, as they’ve become quite the cash cow as of late, in terms of just sending more cash directly back to shareholders. All 3 have appropriate yields for their correlated growth rate, for now.
- Payout Ratio – I love this metric when evaluating these tech companies. AAPL takes the pie with the absolute lowest, as their earnings are fairly strong, with a huge moat, not to mention their buy back program is massive. However – INTC & MSFT make sense, the higher the yield the higher the payout – except – MSFT’s is higher than INTC’s which I wouldn’t expect given their growth rate. I expect MSFT’s growth rate to slow in the future. AAPL looks nice here!
- Dividend Growth Rate – Okay – well AAPL has been growing their dividend for only 5 years, so keep note of that. MSFT has had a fairly long history of over 11 years and INTC has turned it off and on, something that cracks me up but makes me mad at the same time. I don’t expect MSFT’s to be as high going forward, given their payout ratio being in the mid-point, so I would expect theirs to slide in the 6-9% range going forward and Intel’s is going to be fairly consistent here. AAPL, again, with their lower yield and payout show the highest promise for continued double digit growth here! The cash machine of AAPL is real!
- 5-Year Dividend Yield Average – This is another fun sign to see if AAPL & others are undervalued, as if they had a yield > their 5 year yield average, then their growth has outpaced their appreciation and/or the price has dropped recently. Sadly – not one takes a slice of pie here.
- Price to Earnings (P/E) Ratio – Similar to above – lower P/E’s are a sign of undervaluation as well. MSFT is off the books, as they are at or near the overall market as a whole. INTC is the lowest P/E with AAPL coming in second here. In the technology realm, I typically like P/E’s, actually, below 15, as I always believe their earnings should be higher due to our high dependency on technology & advancement of such products – therefore, future earnings should always be on the up trend. AAPL would look better in that ~15 range, not too alarming at over 17, but think there could be some push down on price.
All three companies have great stories. AAPL has the allusive touch of their design, loyalty and eco-system. INTC has the power behind devices and MSFT fits into the other non-AAPL group, however, stiff competition with Android/Google. AAPL has made some massive headways as a dividend stock and I do believe they will be around for quite some time, as long as management has a great succession plan for the next 10-15 years, as well as continues their innovate first, business second mantra.
However, I don’t particularly like AAPL’s price appreciation, at the moment, given my P/E concerns above. They aren’t over-valued against the market, by any means, but for me to own tech – the P/E’s would have to be slightly lower, as the industry evolves at SUCH a rapid pace, wouldn’t you agree? Such an R&D intensive business and quite a few “dollars” go down the tube on non-released products and research – which is okay and is all part of the journey here.
If AAPL fell into the $130 range, I would highly consider purchasing. Will that happen? Not too sure, but I’ll be there if it does. Or they can have a huge EPS increase if we are lucky with little price appreciation.