Apple's (AAPL) stock is the worst-loved piece of paper in the universe. Anything that's said about Apple is all viewed as damning with faint praise, right down to the billion-dollar stake Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B) just took in the company.
I say that because within minutes of learning about the 9.81-million-share position, we also heard that it wasn't Buffett's position, it was either Todd Combs' or Ted Weschler's, two underlings. In other words, it doesn't even count as an Oracle of Omaha name!
To which I say, give me a break. This is the first time I can ever recall that you have to asterisk a Buffett buy. Yep, this one doesn't have the endorsement of Buffett. Just his aides. Heck, maybe he doesn't even like it. Plus, when he buys tech, he buys it wrong anyway, as we know from his poorly timed IBM (IBM) investment.
In fact, by the time I was finished hearing, reading and watching the coverage of this purchase, I felt like this one's got the Warren Buffett kiss of death, for heaven's sake! "Hey, it's those young whippersnappers who are buying Apple," I could hear the wise one say, "pay no attention to them. They don't know an apple from an orange!"
So goes the hate affair with Apple from those who profess to love it. (Apple is part of TheStreet's Action Alerts PLUS portfolio.)
I admit that Apple's been a total dog over the past year. Coming in, it was down almost 40 points from a year ago. I have been steadfast in the name for ages, liking it so much lower that you could say I'm just plain greedy, or stupid for not seeing the top and calling it.
But I simply don't have the antipathy toward Apple that others have, especially those who claim to love it. For example, Toni Sacconaghi, who has long been one of my absolute favorite analysts, and the dean of those who follow the stock, has had an Outperform on Apple for ages. Nevertheless, both his comments on the conference call and his research make you feel like he loathes the darned thing.
Recently, after I had Apple's CEO Tim Cook on the show, Toni wrote an extraordinary piece of research discussing his appearances on television and whether they meant anything for the stock. His conclusion: They don't. To quote: "Cook's television appearances have generally attempted to sooth prevailing investor concerns and Apple's stock has initially typically reacted neutrally or somewhat positively to the public appearances historically as it did last week, " he wrote about the interview. "However, generally the public appearances/associated commentary has not been a good leading indicator for the stock over long periods."
My conclusion from reading the piece: Cook's move to come on Mad Money seemed desperate, although Toni does write that if Apple's buying back a ton of stock, that can be a good thing.
I say with "friends" like Toni, who needs enemies? Then two other firms, Citi and Pacific Crest, recently put out pieces that basically declared the iPhone 7 dead on arrival, according to some pretty dire channel checks.
Maybe we can make a judgment that a phone that's still in the works and won't be available for months is a total bomb, unneeded by the public, as these research notes imply.
But maybe, just maybe, we have no idea how it will do and instead we should be focusing on Cook's fence-mending trip to China and his upcoming trip to India. Maybe we should be talking about how easy it was for him to invest $1 billion in Didi, the Uber of China.
The Chinese have been building apps for the App Store, producing $3.5 billion in sales alone, $3.5 billion that the government didn't have to pay to its citizens. That's a huge positive.
But none of this matters right now because these reluctant bulls on Apple must downgrade it before there can be any stabilization in the stock. When a company misses, the logical process is a sea of downgrades, a lowered share price, and then upgrades when the worst is built in.
Until that happens, all I can say is, the loving hate affair with Apple will continue. Bottoming is a process. This one's stunted. Hence the faint praise that damns. Hence a stock that's just a real tough own even after today.