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Apple investors: How to stay sane by staying long

Earlier today I had a quick chat with iMore’s editor-in-chief, Rene Ritchie about all the crazy rumours and bad journalism that Apple has had to deal with lately. But more to the point, we talked about how this stuff can hurt small time investors if they don’t know how to deal with it. So that’s what we’ll talk about here.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook speaking at Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference tomorrow

Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, will be speaking at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference tomorrow, and it's been moved up to an all new, all earlier time-slot. According to Apple investor relations:

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What’s with Apple’s cash and Greenlight Capital’s complaining?

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal ran a story about hedge fund titan David Einhorn, and his firm Greenlight Capital’s view that Apple isn’t distributing enough cash to shareholders. Einhorn says Apple is behaving with a “depression-era mentality” according to the story.

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Mercer Report mocks Apple share price, reverses BlackBerry's fortunes

Your daily dose of humor, courtesy of the Mercer Report . (Think something like Jon Stewart but with more u and eh.) It's easy to point out that Apple lost more money last week then several RIMs put together, but it's also undeniable that if you bought RIMM stock a while back, you'd be better off today than if you bought Apple stock.

And that should tell you just how totally insane the market it. Again.

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Why Apple had to close at $500 on January 19

Joe Springer on Seeking Alpha proposed the following theory on why institutional money had a lot to gain by pushing Apple's stock price down to $500 by January 19, and a lot to lose if it had remained substantially higher.

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In what world should Amazon enjoy more future confidence than Apple?

There is no question that Apple has done some amazing things. It has become the largest company in the world, by market value, because it has redefined industries. It redefined the music business, it redefined smartphones and it redefined tablet computing. Apple did not invent these businesses. Most observers would argue that the likes of Handspring/Palm and RIM invented smartphones and stylus-oriented computing devices, including Apple's Newton and Microsoft's Tablet PC certainly pre-dated the iPad. But Apple massively and permanently redefined consumers’ expectations in these markets. While doing so, they built up an incredibly profitable hardware business.

So why is it that Apple’s stock hasn’t actually outperformed Amazon by that much?

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Are the risks to Apple's stock as serious as some investors think?

The equity research arm of Barclays just put out a report on Apple, and it has a handy chart summarizing all of the main concerns investors have with the stock right now.

The concerns are: 1) Long term operating margins; 2) competition for iPhone; 3) competition for iPad; 4) no “next big thing; 5) concerns over maps; 6) management changes; 7) production execution; 8) execution risks in vertical integration

Let’s dive into these a bit, shall we?

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Should it bother investors that Apple stock is getting killed lately?

Yes, Apple is still the biggest company in the world. But since hitting a high of over $700 in late September, the stock is off about 20%. Putting this in dollar terms, the value of Apple, as a company, has fallen by nearly $140 billion compared to the September highs.

During this 20% drop, Apple’s market value has fallen by 32x the total market value of RIM. Talk about a metric that puts things in perspective! Apple has also lost more value than 60% of Google’s total market capitalization, and more than Verizon’s entire market cap. Why?

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Will Apple soon be worth one trillion dollars?

The value of a company is whatever people are willing to pay for it. And for public companies like Apple, that value equates to an open market stock price times however many shares there are in existence. Street lingo for this is market capitalization, or simply “market cap”.

Apple is the world’s most valuable company. Period. Not just among technology companies, but among all companies in the world. Apple is worth a staggering $624 billion as I write this paragraph. It’s stock price is hovering around $673 and since there are 937 million shares outstanding, multiplying those two numbers together gives us that immense market cap.

To hit a $1 trillion market cap, the stock price needs to climb to $1067, which is 59% higher than today’s price. Of course, one trillion dollars is an arbitrary number. But lots of public companies are worth over $100 billion, and the next zero to be added gets you to a trillion. So it’s psychologically important. Will Apple be the first company to achieve it?

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Juicing the Apple: On dividends and stock buy backs

Apple lays out $45 billion, 3 year strategy to attract new investors and neutralize dilution

As expected, and hinted at by Apple CEO Tim Cook, Apple announced the start of a regular quarterly dividend this morning. They also announced intentions to buy back stock, although the dividend is the bigger news, and drew more questions from analysts on the call.

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