Apple Inc. (NASDAQ/AAPL) is to the technology world what Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ/MSFT) was in the 90s. The stock traded at a record $415.00 on Tuesday and, in my view, could be heading for $500.00 within a year. The market capitalization of $382 billion makes Apple the biggest company in the world. And not only is Apple the biggest, but it also leading the technology pack with innovation and a desire to be the world’s dominant company.
If someone were to ask me, “What are the best stocks?” Apple would definitely be up there. If you had asked me a few years ago, I may have said Research In Motion Limited (NASDAQ/RIMM) was one of the best. But, while the business at Research In Motion (RIM for short) is falling behind as far as vision and execution, Apple is on the cutting edge with its new products. I used to be faithful to my “BlackBerry,” but have since moved over to the “iPhone” and “iPad.”
The reality is that Apple is the “best of breed.” Just look at the iPad sales. Apple sold 9.2 million units in the second quarter, versus a mere 0.49 million for RIM’s PlayBook. For 2012, estimates call for the sale of 62.5 million iPads. Don’t be at all surprised to see RIM look at dumping its PlayBook, which is nice, but really not close to the iPad. RIM disappointed with third-quarter revenues and earnings per share falling short. BlackBerry shipments came in well below estimates. You can blame the results partly on Apple.
In the tablet market, Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE/HPQ) already axed its “TouchPad” tablet and Sharp announced last week that it was also exiting the tablet market. Sony Corporation (NYSE/SNE) is getting set to introduce its new tablet, which has received excellent reviews; but I doubt it will be enough to knock Apple off its perch. When the application developers are so focused on Apple, it will be difficult for the rivals to get a piece of the action.
While RIM is struggling in the United States, the company’s prospects may be the brightest in regions such as Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Of course, failure here could drive RIM into the ground as the stock that couldn’t beat Apple.
RIM just launched three new BlackBerry smartphones with the new “BlackBerry 7” OS. Again, the phones are facing tough competition from Apple’s iPhone and it will not be easy. The key will be the international markets.
In my view, RIM will need to get some fresh ideas and perhaps a change in leadership and direction to drive a new strategy for the company or face possible extinction. For RIM, revenue growth in fiscal 2012 is estimated to slow to 3.1%, but rebound to 9.1% in fiscal 2013. These metrics are horrible given that Apple’s revenue growth for the next two years is 66.2% and 22.8%, respectively.
So, unless RIM can stage a rebound and make its products more desirable, it may endure a slow death.
Apple also needs to continue to innovate to brush off rivals and, given that Steve Jobs will no longer be in control due to serious health issues, there are also uncertainties with the company. For the time being, I would long Apple and avoid RIM. RIM is tempting as a short candidate, but given its arsenal of patents, the company could be a takeover target.