The debate continues whether to hold Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock forever or trade it as it gyrates in the short-term. Even as mighty as it is now there are almost as many analysts who rate the stock as a BUY or HOLD. But none of them have a SELL rating on it, so it is always an opportunity to own Apple stock if you want to hold it long enough.
So the right answer lies somewhere in between and totally depends on the investor time frame. The long-term thesis of AAPL is viable for as long as the stock market is a rising investment vehicle. But I also believe in trying to maximize profits wherever and whenever possible from short-term opportunities along the way.
First, let’s consider the bullish thesis for Apple stock. Year-to-date, it is up 30%, which is almost double that of the S&P 500. In five years it is up 150%, three times the S&P. So clearly the proof is in the pudding as they say.
Although I am not a fan of the products for myself, I do respect that they are beautiful and functional. This is a matter of taste as I’ve always leaned towards PC and Android systems. But what I respect most about AAPL stock is the hold the company has on its clients.
AAPL clientele is the most dedicated I’ve ever seen to a company. Price is never a problem for the users, and they gladly admit that they are stuck in its eco-system. Clearly, it has a sustainable advantage.
Now for the bad part. What I like the least about Apple stock long term is that its fate is in the hands of Tim Cook. The experts praise him for increasing the value of the company since he took it over. While it’s impossible to prove, it is very likely that AAPL stock would have succeeded just the same even without a leader at the helm.
And therein lies part of the opportunity today. While Apple is still is a cash generating machine and the stock remains a BUY for a few years to come, I can use it to profit short term. I can snipe technical opportunities under the pretext of a longer thesis.
Apple reports earnings at the end of the month. Usually AAPL stock rallies into the event, but after it’s a binary reaction to the results. So the opportunity for the trade started the day they announced a settlement with Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM).
The Best Way to Approach Apple Stock
I took advantage of the opportunity intra-day. Apple stock suddenly spiked on volume before the actual announcement. Some on Wall Street knew the news before it happened. I went long the stock and the trade has been a big win already, but it is not done yet.
So I will hold my position long into its earnings report. AAPL is likely to spin a positive story from the QCOM settlement. And with the size of its profit and loss statement, they can back it up. Tim Cook has become a spin doctor of late and there is no reason to doubt his promises yet.
The consensus is that Apple is lagging in important areas, especially on the transition to 5G. But they will probably guide well enough to reignite hope for the fans. We all know they’re going to crush it as they always do. And this time they can even hide any iPhone sales weakness since they no longer report unit sales. This makes it hard for critics to find a single reason to sell the event. The balance sheet and its P&L are large enough that it will be very easy to hide any weaknesses in one particular segment.
The fundamental reason to own Apple stock is easy. This is the premier company on the planet and it has the financial statements to back it up. And it sells at a price-to-earnings ratio of 14, which is the cheapest of the technology mega caps. The fact that Walt Street doesn’t give AAPL stock its due is a tradition, so that alone is not a reason to own it for a specific period of time. Luckily this time, going into the earnings report AAPL also has a short-term technical spark.
Last week, AAPL stock triggered a bullish chart pattern that should target $220 per share. While nothing is guaranteed, there is a high chance that it reaches it soon. This either happens going into the earnings, or Tim Cook will surprise investors with a strong report card that would finish this pattern.
Today’s trade is tactically designed to capture the price action around one event. But also long-term, AAPL is a stock to own, so it will eventually get to my target in case this short-term trigger fails to fill its upside potential on this run.
Once AAPL stock crossed the $200 per share zone it triggered a buy signal that should invite buyers of the stock for an additional $20 per share. Along the way, there will be areas of resistance but also open gaps that will be magnetic.
It is important to note that Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) reports first this week and AAPL could move in sympathy with it. This is also be a binary outcome to add to the short-term uncertainty.
Nicolas Chahine is the managing director of SellSpreads.com. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities. You can follow him as @racernic on Twitter and Stocktwits.