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Want to Buy Apple Without Chasing? – Some Possible Entry Points (AAPL, SPY, QQQ)

February 15, 2012 Leave a comment

Since blowing out earnings expectations on January 24, Apple, Inc. (AAPL) has been on a tear, bringing the S&P 500 (SPY) and NASDAQ (QQQ) along for the ride. From the pre-earnings closing price of $420.50 on January 24th, to today’s intra-day high of $526.29, Apple had gained a stunning 25% in just 16 trading days.

Unfortunately, this quick run up has made it hard to begin a long position in the stock because of the complete lack of pullbacks other than the 50% long Fibonacci extension at $445 that traded during the first day after earnings (shown Here on a 90 day, hourly chart). The other issue with Apple’s recent move up past the $500 milestone is that it has attracted an enormous amount of momentum-oriented investors who have seen the move up that has already happened, and are now chasing high’s in hopes of catching some of the move. I can’t predict when the momentum will run out, but I can be reasonably sure that the momentum investors will dump the shares as quickly as they bought them once the upward trend begins to fade. Whether you are a value investor or technically-based trader, Price matters and that is why it is so important to remain calm, disciplined and patient when buying into even the highest quality of stocks.

The charts below show Apple’s 20 Year Weekly chart (logarithmic), 3 Year Daily chart (linear) and 90 Day Hourly chart and I will discuss potential entry points for each time frame. I also want to be clear before beginning that just because the safest entry points are below where Apple is currently trading, I am not at all recommending a short position and I personally would never consider it due to the high quality and debatable undervalued nature of the stock. If Apple is in trouble, the S&P 500 would likely also be in trouble and I’d much rather short SPY or by an inverse ETF.

AAPL 20 Year Weekly Chart (Logarithmic):

(Click for Larger Image)

You can see from this chart that Apple has sold off every time it ran into this resistance line going all the way back to 1994. This time might be different but it certainly warrants caution. So let’s take a look at some potentially safer entry points for longer time frame investors Here which zooms in to a 3 Year Weekly chart.  The safest play would be to wait for Apple to sell off down to the purple 50 week Simple Moving Average (SMA) which is currently at ~$379 and rising at a decent clip. For slightly move aggressive individuals, buying the 50% long at the green horizontal line at $445 or previous highs at $425 could work well and also coincide with the white 10 week SMA.

AAPL 3 Year Daily Chart (Linear):

(Click for Larger Image)

This chart demonstrates Apple’s tendency to have fast run ups, and then periods of prolonged consolidation (highlighted in grey) which offer long term investors the chance to buy on dips. Meanwhile the red declining trend lines have routinely served as a good signal to shorter term technical traders that a breakout was taking place. These breakouts have lasted between 2 and 5 months with the average duration being 2.7 months long. This most recent rally is approaching the average duration right now and has completely broken out of its 3 year rising channel that it had been trading in (shown Here). Given these indications that the stock is possibly overextended, it would be prudent to wait for a retracement into one of the 50% Fibonacci levels shown in the chart above (notice that the $445 support level is visible on both the weekly and daily charts).

AAPL 90 Day Hourly Chart:

(Click for Larger Image)

For short term technical traders, there are only really two other levels to pay attention to aside from the daily support levels (Shown by the red and dotted horizontal lines that start at the beginning of 2012). The first (and most aggressive)  entry is an extension long setup (an extension long is a Fibonacci drawn from a previous high to a new high after a significant thrusting move, as opposed to a traditional Fibonacci which is drawn from lows to high) at $490. This extension originates from the previous high set after the post-earnings gap up to the intra-day high that we hit today at $526. The next long setup is down at $479 and is just a few points away from the daily support level which could give it an extra boost. This second extension has is just the continuation of the original gap up extension long that traded the day after earnings at the $445 level.

In summary, potential buying areas on Apple are as follows (from least to most aggressive):
Weekly Entries:
50 Week SMA, $445, $425

Daily Entries:
$476, $445

Aggressive Entries:
$490, $479

Disclosure:
I am long shares of Apple, however, I did close out 1/3 of my position today to lock in profits at $498.33.

Reviewing Our 2009 Trades (AAPL, RIMM, GS, JPM, MS, SHAW, BNI, BAGL, PALM, GRMN, VXX, SH)

January 7, 2010 Leave a comment

During the year Michael and I issue various opinions about stocks that we feel strongly about. We do this whether we have purchased/sold them in our personal accounts, or just because we feel strongly about the direction a stock will take but aren’t in a position to capitalize.  We have been writing this blog for a several months now and feel it would be instructive to analyze our picks and determine what worked and what didn’t, and provide our current insight on those stocks.  Current market prices will be taken from the close of market today, January 7th, 2010.

Some That Went Well:
B SHAW @ 28.20: I bought the Shaw Group (SHAW) on October 16, a day where they got hit hard by a number of events. Shaw just announced earnings which beat expectations, taking their stock to $32.36, for a return of about 16% in 3 months.  I saw them then, just as I do now, as an undervalued and under-appreciated infrastructure play with a nuclear energy kicker.

B BNI @ 79.20: I bought Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNI) on October 1.  I was looking at a cyclical play as the economy recovered, I figured that rail was going to see a huge rebound as the economy recovered.  What would be the chief driver of this? The efficiency of rail, as energy prices rise (another bet I am taking), rail will become more and more attractive relative to other methods of over-land material shipping.  Towards the end of last year, Warren Buffet announced that he was buying the rest of the BNI shares he didn’t already own for $100/share, and the stock rose to that level generating a return of 26% in 2 months.  I eventually sold that position instead of receiving the equivalent in BRK.B shares.

S PALM @ 17.40: I nailed this one.  I didn’t own the stock, so I couldn’t sell it, but had investors heeded my warning they would have saved themselves from 34% of downside given the current price of $11.45.  I wrote this as PALM was riding high on the prospects for the Pre smartphone, but I saw the dark clouds on the horizons.  With Google releasing their Nexis One yesterday, if puts another nail in the coffin of Palm’s WebOS, as the ability for manufacturers to customize Android, and the immense Apple App store, give massive advantages over Palm’s new system.

S GRMN @ 37.63: This is another one that I didn’t own and so couldn’t sell, but the stock is now 17% below the price at which I recommended selling.  Again, this is smartphone related as GRMN released their Nuvi to much hype, but little substance.  GRMN is losing marketshare to smartphone applications like on the iPhone, Motorola Droid and Google Nexis One, and this is a trend that will continue.  The Nuvi was supposed to help, but it was a confused hybrid between stand-alone GPS and a smartphone that made a mess of both functions.  Investors will do well to continue to stay clear.

B RIMM @ 56.60: Mike nailed this price for RIMM.  He used discounted cash flows analysis to determine that it was severely undervalued, and that turned out to be the case.  RIMM is currently trading at approximately $65, for an upside of about 16% in the 2 months since his article was published.  RIMM is the biggest player in the smartphone market, and their strength will likely continue as they release new products that are competitive with the other market leaders.

S RIMM @ 83.60: Again, Mike nailed this one.  With a current price of $65, Mike saved himself and any readers who heeded his warning from 28% of downside over the course of 3 months.  His hypothesis was that expectations for performance had outstripped actual results, and that was the case as RIMM reported earnings that disappointed.

There was also Mike’s December 17th post, on Meredith Whitney’s calls on Goldman Sachs & Co. (GS), Morgan Stanley (MS), and JP Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM) where he proposed that it would likely be profitable to ignore her calling considering that the stocks had already fallen quite a bit and that even with her lower earnings estimates, they still represented great values at their prices at the time. Mike has so far been proved correct, and all three are up by 10%, 13% and 11% respectively in the two weeks since his post.  All returns are more than doubling the 4% gain of the S&P 500.

And Some That Did Not Go So Well:
B VXX @ 48.30: The problem was not the argument, but the vehicle chosen to execute that argument.  VXX is an ETF that is designed to follow the short-term VIX futures contract price.  The problem is, it doesn’t.  Since my article was posted, this ETF is down 37%.  Luckily I got out pretty quickly (at $45.96), but in retrospect this was a horrible idea.

S AAPL @ 189.59-190.00: Our hypothesis on this article (which incidentally got us a note from Apple’s lawyers…check out the original post) was that AAPL had fully priced in any future good news, and was excluding the possibility of poor performance.  A week after our original article, Apple released record earnings, and the stock shot up to above $200.  It has shown volatility since then, but now stands at $210 for a missed upside of about 10%.  We stand by our convictions, but with the utmost respect for AAPL’s continued performance.

B RIMM @ 70.07 and 67.20: After RIMM missed earnings on September 25, the stock dropped by 15% in a day.  I bought that dip, and Mike bought a few days later.  I underestimated the investor disappointment concerning earnings, and bought way too early.  The fallout from earnings hadn’t happened yet, and the stock would eventually settle in the mid $50s before recovering.  At its current price of $65, the decline isn’t so painful but it definitely hurt for a while.

B BAGL @ 10.12: Mike found this one while searching through relatively unwatched industries for low-beta stocks that were severely undervalued on a cash flow basis to their peers. It is currently down only 4% but this is following a more than 11% gain off of where it fell in the mid-8’s. Einstein Noah Restaurant Group continues to trade at less than half a years revenue even though the company is still growing. Mike still feels it offers a very compelling value especially compared to it’s peers, however, he recognizes that it was probably a mistake to dive in until there was a potential catalyst to drive the stock higher considering that they don’t even pay a dividend.

I hope readers find this constructive.  I find it is helpful to go back and learn from both your mistakes and successes.  In general, I feel that we have done quite well in picking stocks on both sides of the trade.

-AH

Disclosure: Andrew is long RIMM and SHAW.  Michael is long BAGL, BAC and net long the market although currently building a position in SH.

Amazon and the Incredible Rising PE (AMZN, FDX, UPS, M, TGT, BGP, AAPL, GOOG, PG)

November 30, 2009 1 comment

Amazon’s (AMZN) stock reached a new, all-time high of 135.91 today after having another successful day, finishing up over 3% on a choppy day of trading.  What is going on, and why does it deserve a Price-To-Earnings Multiple of close to 80?

Certainly, we can look at the obvious trends that have been taking place over the past decade or so.  The slow (or not so slow) decline of brick-and-mortar is well documented, as is the amazing, almost parabolic, rise of online e-commerce.  The large overhead and real estate costs of running a physical store put shops like Macy’s (M), Target (TGT) and Borders (BGP) at a disadvantage when it comes to pricing.  Add to that the advantage that customers in most states do not pay sales tax for online purchases (although this may change), and the advantages of Internet shopping are huge.

But, based on this years earning expectations of 1.88, AMZN is trading at a multiple of 72 as of todays close. Granted, this is lower than was found during the bubble years but they have real revenue now and far lower growth prospects.  Analysts expect the company to grow by 25% per year, which in the next 5 years would give AMZN a market cap of about $180bn, equivalent to Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG), or Proctor & Gamble (PG) today.

I could not think more highly of Amazon the company.  They have proven resiliant, resourceful and innovative in their highly competitive market.  They refuse to rest on their successes, as shown by their unveiling of the Kindle; a product that is making people take E-Readers seriously for the first time.  And I believe that the company will show continued success.  AMZN the stock, however, has gone too far.  There are less pricey ways to play the shift to E-Commerce (Fedex (FDX) and UPS (UPS) spring to mind), but frankly, this whole e-shopping trade is getting too crowded for my blood.

-AH

Disclosure: Long TGT, no positions in any other stock mentioned.

B RIMM @ $56.60 (RIMM, AAPL, GOOG, MOT)

November 2, 2009 1 comment

Research in Motion BlackBerryPretty simple rules based buy. Research in Motion (RIMM) should be trading above $60 using the most extraordinarily conservative projections according to discounted cash flows. It should trade around $80-90 using more realistic projections and around $110 using bullish scenarios.

$56.60 was also about 15% under my average price which usually calls for me to add more to my positions if I still feel good about them. I know there is lots of concern that Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone and the new Android competitors from Google (GOOG) such as the Motorola (MOT) Droid will hurt Research in Motion and to be honest I agree. However, I think that the concern has been overdone. Research in Motion is strongest in the business sector where the iPhone and other smart phones have irtually no traction. Corporate spending is falling now because of the recession but I would prefer to buy this fear rather than sell on it because it is temporary and only related to the recession.

The trend in mobile smart phones is strong and I believe Research in Motion will continue to capitalize on its growth.

-MJB

Disclosure: Long RIMM and GOOG

Apple Earnings Breakdown and Analysis (AAPL, MSFT)

October 20, 2009 1 comment

They say that good investing shouldn’t feel good when you do it….

By that logic, Andrew and myself must have made an absolutely amazing investing decision when we wrote our post last week explaining our reasoning behind him selling all of his Apple and me selling 66% of my position.  Not only did we get contacted by Apple’s lawyers about that story, but they decided to rub it in by posting record profitability and having their stock rocket up in after-hours.

Analysts were expecting EPS of $1.42 on average with the whisper number closer to $1.70.  Apple destroyed both numbers with earnings of $1.82. They also trounced the sales numbers across the board; beating on Mac’s, iPhones and even the iPod. Their gross margins actually expanded during the quarter thanks to people upgrading to Leopard (Microsoft might be able to surprise next quarter for similar reasons related to Windows 7).

The one caveat to Apple’s earnings is that their guidance for next quarter was below consensus estimates, however, Apple is known for sandbagging.

This amazing quarter was in line with our thinking that Apple is an exceptional company with impeccable execution. However, I still feel that there is very little or no negativity priced in to the stock  and it is reminiscent of Akamai (AKAM) a couple years ago when everyone “knew” how great of an investment it was (it fell ~30% following an earnings report was only “very good”).

I think 2010 earnings will be between $6-8 and the stock should be fetching a P/E of 20-30. These estimates would imply a price of $120 to $240 with the average being $175. I’d love to make another 20% on Apple but even my average estimate would put me at a 12.5% loss while the low end would represent a 40% drop. The risk/reward ratio is nowhere near as appealing as when Apple was trading below $100 where I was buying and I still feel there are other investments with better ROI at current levels.

I will add to my position if we get to ~$180 and I will be selling the rest of my shares if we approach $225.

-MJB

Disclosure: Long AAPL, RIMM, MSFT

S AAPL @189.59-190.00

October 14, 2009 6 comments

green_appleThis is somewhat of a joint post between the two of us, as we have both sold Apple (AAPL) in the last week (AH, all shares@$189.59 and MB, 66% shares@$190.00) after having some discussions about the stock.

Our thought process was fairly simple and it revolved around the question: What is priced into the stock?  There is no bad news surrounding Apple right now.  Any thoughts that they, being a manufacturer of premium products, would be struck down by the recession have been quelled as they rolled out earnings numbers that almost defied belief.  The myth that without Steve Jobs the company would be a body with no head has been squashed, as they performed admirably during the health-related absence of their CEO. They continue to excite and amaze the population with relatively minor and incremental upgrades to their products, due to the strength of their existing market position and their incredible marketing abilities. The ever-persistent rumors about a tablet or touchscreen notepad-like product have reached the pinnacle as analysts expect a product arriving early next year that will energize that dormant segment like they did the music and mobile phone industries. Even beyond this, this is the belief that Apple’s innovative power will continue at the speed of Moore’s Law and that everything they do will work so well in the future as to cause network effects that will cause limitless profits.

As stated before, there seems to be no bad news priced in, but I see a few dark clouds on the horizon. Windows 7 is arriving soon, and is supposed to be the first product from Microsoft (MSFT) that can truly compete with OS X.  Apple may no longer stand to benefit from having a unworthy competitor. Additionally, Apple’s impeccable track record with nearly everything they touch means that if the much hyped tablet concept turns out to be anything other than astounding, investors could be disappointed.

At the time of this writing, Apple is within 5% below its all time, intra-day high of approximately 202.98.  That price was reached in December 2007, just before the financial crisis really took hold of the markets.  At that point, there were equally no reservations among analysts that AAPL was going to the moon. It was after that point that doubts began materializing.

Given the abundance of good news and the lack of bad catalysts, we are not calling a top on AAPL. However, until the good expectations baked into Apple’s price begin to materialize in a meaningful way we think there are other investment opportunities with better potential rates of return after considering Apple’s 100%+ run from the bottom on March 9th, 2009.

Disclosure: Michael is long AAPL, Andrew is long MSFT. Both love Apple products.