April 2011
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Day April 21, 2011

Is Android responsible for Apple's deep market discount?

At last night’s closing price Apple was trading at a P/E of 16.3. Excluding cash that ratio was at 13. On a conservative forward basis (my estimates) the stock is priced at less than 10 times next twelve months’ earnings.

These figures show a remarkable pessimism that has persisted around Apple for years. It was slightly, but not much, worse during the great recession. It persisted whether the company was growing at 30% of, as now, 95%.

There are many hypotheses about why Apple’s earnings and growth are considered worthless. They come and go with the whims of the age: recession, elitist, luxury branding, health issues, macro “headwinds”, earthquakes, phantom competition.

Lately it’s become fashionable to blame Android. That’s a curious thing to me, because Android has been discussed at length here and it has been shown to be, for the time being, benign. Apple has not “lost sales” to Android as it has been selling all it can produce. In some ways it’s been a boon as a co-belligerent against non-consumption.

Apple Earnings: Evaluating my performance

As chronicled here, this quarter I went through three sets of estimates. This is a departure from my standard practice of sticking with one forecast made three months in advance. I felt last quarter was filled with materially important developments which deserved updating.

So how did I do?

I wanted to see if the additional information helped or hindered predictability so I put my three predictions side-by-side and measured the errors. I also added the “legal leak” from April 15th (published April 19th) to see whether it was an accurate predictor. The table below shows the error rates with the lowest error highlighted.