Apple and Baidu Revisited

September 11, 2013 at 3:33 am Leave a comment

In my previous post back in April, I wrote about underwhelming performance of Apple and Baidu, especially in light of rising markets.  Now is a good time to revisit where these companies stand now.

Let’s start with Baidu, also known as Google of China.  For nearly a year, investors were highly skeptical of its ability to monetize mobile search and were concerned with slight market share loss in search to competitor Qihoo.  Its reasonable valuation, high growth rate and dominant market position were all discounted.  However, market perception can change quickly.  Baidu reported good progress in its mobile business, and suddenly the market realized that this discounting was unwarranted.  As a result, stock rose about 70% from its bottom.

Apple stock started its downtrend about a year ago, due to increased competition, margin pressure, and perceived lack of innovation.  It did bounce up 25% from its bottom, but even today its valuation metrics are still lower compared to such “innovative” companies as Microsoft or Intel.  Today’s introduction of iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S did not reveal anything revolutionary, but that is becoming more difficult as product categories mature.  Apple still remains a cash generation machine, and has an enviable problem of what to do with all that cash on the books.  Activist and hedge fund manager Carl Icahn sees a value here and argues for return of that cash to shareholders via even larger dividends and stock buybacks.

Patience is definitely a virtue in investing.  Recognizing a quality stock out of favor, such as Apple and Baidu in the spring, often leads to supersized returns.  Even after its bounce back from the lows, Apple remains quite attractive today.   As to other quality companies out of favor today, consider Panera Bread and Intuitive Surgical.

Entry filed under: Stock Ideas.

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Blog Author

Leon Shirman's long-term investment philosophy is summarized in his book, “42 Rules for Sensible Investing”, also available from Amazon.


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