Two of the biggest names in the world of business today, not merely technology, are Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG). Both have established themselves among the most significant corporations on the planet, with Google absolutely central to the contemporary Internet, and Apple the dominant and most revered producer of consumer electronics in the world.
Apple – the ultimate brand
Apple is currently rated as the most valuable brand in the world by Forbes, and the world’s 15th largest corporation, while Google is the fifth most valuable brand and within the top seventy most valuable corporations on the planet. This would obviously imply that Apple is the more valuable company of the two, and its most recent sales figures indicated that the company has shifted record numbers of its most important product lines – the iPhone and iPad. So why has Google’s stock so notably outperformed Apple in the last year or so?
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Both Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s share price and stock is slavishly followed by investors and market analysts all over the world. Millions have observed Google’s stock price rise during this period, with the computing firm having celebrated a 75 percent increase in value over the last fourteen months.
By contrast, the stock of the world’s biggest brand has been pretty stable over the same period, and even declined somewhat on the back of investor skepticism that the consumer electronics manufacturer can successfully expand its product range.
Thus far, Google has managed to acquire an enterprise value which is $22 billion in excess of that of Apple. This is somewhat mystifying considering Apple’s net income is nearly three times that of Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), with the former raking in over $37 billion in revenue per year compared to Google’s annual income of just under $13 billion. And famously Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has well over $100 billion of ready cash available to invest at any time, reckoned to be approximately four times the cash flow that Google has available.
Icahn recommends vast buyback
Based on these figures, it is perhaps not surprising that many market analysts consider Apple to be seriously undervalued in comparison to Google. One such Apple bull is the billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn who owns over $3 billion of Apple stock, having recently invested another $500 million in the company. Icahn is perpetually using his influence and clout at the company to push Apple to commit to a $50 billion buyback; not something that has been rubber stamped yet, but clearly a strategy which Icahn believes to be foolproof.
Just last month Icahn wrote a letter to Apple shareholders – presumably in an attempt to instigate his recommended course of action – in which he listed a number of reasons why he believes Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s stock is currently greatly undervalued. Apple is currently trading over 70 percent below the average price-to-earnings multiple of the S&P 500, and is expected to increase its annual revenue to over $40 billion this year.
While Apple’s hierarchy has acknowledged the importance of establishing new products in order to diversify, the company surely has great potential in the medium-term. If the iPhone 6 turns out to be as exciting as it currently looks then Apple’s share price may not be dormant for long.