The news that Apple planned to unveil its third-generation iPad in early March sent Apple’s stock soaring to $500 and beyond, and it brought back a meme that has come and gone quite frequently over the past year: “Apple is worth more than.” Ever since Apple began to go back and forth with Exxon for the title of most valuable company in the world, the media has become obsessed with finding combinations of companies, national debts and other interesting things that Apple is worth more than. The game has become quite easy now that Apple has put some separation between itself and Exxon — as of market close on Friday, Apple’s market capitalization topped $460 billion while Exxon’s value sat at just under $397 billion — but in the context of Apple’s rivals, there are two key areas where this meme is of particular interest. Read on for more. More →
Despite ballooning revenues and a record of kick-ass quarterly reports, Apple’s stock has been downgraded from “market outperform” to “market perform” by JMP Securities. The firm said that it made the choice based on the “notable deceleration in [Apple’s] primary manufacturing partner Hon Hai (Foxconn) that was emerging even prior to the amplified uncertainty created by developments in Japan.” JMP Securities suggested that Hon Hai’s sales decelerated from 84% year on year in December to 37% in January — then decelerated yet again to 26% in February. As a result, JMP Securities is also dropping its Q2 2011 revenues estimates from $23 billion to $22 billion.
With Steve Jobs’ medical leave from Apple, many expected the company’s stock to get hit quite a bit — and they’d be right as shares of AAPL are down around 5% as the market opens this morning. Don’t forget that Apple is reporting its Holiday quarter earnings later today, however, and the consensus is that Apple will have the biggest and most profitable quarter ever. Apple’s earnings can and most likely will help the stock overcome the impact of Jobs’ leave from Apple, at least temporarily — as was clearly Apple’s intention with the timing of yesterday’s announcement. With Apple’s extremely solid product lineup for 2011 (as it has been rumored), we’ll have to see how the stock fares long term.