Should You Really Avoid Apple Inc. (AAPL) Stock?

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Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares have plunged about 25% from their September 2012 peak of $705. The tech giant still has a market value of more than $467 billion, and has $159 billion in cash. It’s still the world’s most valuable stock. Its dirt-cheap valuation, immensely popular brand, and potential growth opportunities are the reason legendary investor Carl Icahn is bullish on the stock.

Is Apple doomed?

But Forbes contributor Peter Cohan says investors should avoid buying Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). Peter backs his thesis with valid arguments. Under Steve Jobs, the tech giant created beautiful products such as the iPod, iPhone and iPad that changed the consumer electronics landscape. Besides developing wonderful products, Apple also did a great job with creating content, marketing, retailing, and customer service.

But Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s growth has slowed considerably under Tim Cook. In the last seven years under Jobs, the company revenues registered an average annual growth of 44%. Under Cook, it’s just 26%, and the growth rate is decelerating rapidly. Revenues rose just 9% last year. Moreover, the company’s new product portfolio just doesn’t look revolutionary. Rumors around the iTV and iWatch have been making the rounds for years. Meanwhile, rivals have already launched similar products to get an edge over the iPhone maker.

What’s more, the company is heavily dependent on the iPhone. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s smartphone lineup generated about $91 billion in revenues last year. But the iPhone is losing market share. According to Strategy Analytics, iPhone sales grew just 13% in 2013, while the overall smartphone market expanded by 41%. Apple’s market share in the smartphone industry fell from 19% to 15.3%, while Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94) (KRX:005930) now controls 33% of the market.

Growth opportunities for Apple

However, look beyond these factors and you’ll see that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) still has plenty of room to grow. The company has signed a deal with China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE:CHL) (HKG:0941), the world’s largest telecom carrier. That’s a strong near-term catalyst. The iPhone sales have picked up in the March quarter, thanks to China Mobile.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is also reportedly in talks with Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA) (NASDAQ:CMCSK) to offer Internet video streaming. There have also been rumors that the iPhone maker may buy Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX). Most importantly, the company has about $159 billion in cash, which it can use to buy any company with significant growth opportunities, anytime. These factors, coupled with the bigger iPhone 6, iWatch, iTV, and its dirt-cheap valuation represent a solid growth potential.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares were down 0.26% to $522.22 at 9:47 AM EDT on Tuesday.

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