Call it the shot heard round the world. David Einhorn’s lawsuit against tech goliath Apple (AAPL) has focused a giant spotlight on what has been one of the worst performing stock market sectors of 2013– large old technology stocks. Could this be the set up for the biggest sector rotation of the year?
Most of the price action in this year can be divided into kinds: big cap banks and industrials, and what I call garbage. So the shares of Bank of America (BAC), JP Morgan (JPM), Caterpillar (CAT), Procter & Gamble (PG), and Exxon (XOM) have been going through the roof. Garbage stocks, best represented by Netflix (NFLX) have done even better, largely driven by the desperate short covering of big hedge funds.
The Einhorn suit resonated with many of the long suffering owners of Apple, which has seen the value of their holdings plunge 38% since the September $706 peak. His basic message is that the company’s many past near death experiences have fostered a depression mentality where there is no such thing as too much cash.
As a result, $130 billion sits in T bills and money market funds earning nothing, the largest such accumulation in history. Just this hoard, alone, would rank as America’s 19th largest company by market capitalization.
Such conservatism in management is laudable. But Einhorn argues that it has been taken to such extremes at Apple that it has crossed the boundary into mismanagement and malfeasance. The activist shareholder wants the company to return money to shareholders in the form of high dividends and stock buybacks. Such action could trigger a rapid doubling in the value of the stock.
The litigation was enough to ignite a 10% in Apple stock last week. I think David is interested in far more than just this. Is this the final bottom for the beleaguered company? Is it time to buy? The NASDAQ Index certainly things so. Check out the chart below and you’ll see that the action in Apple enabled it to bust out of its recent torpor to the upside.
The really interesting possibility is that the rebirth of Apple could have major implications for the market as a whole. Survey the landscape these days, and you find shares that are either extremely overbought, or extremely oversold. If money shifts from the leaders to the laggards, it could give the indexes enough juice to take another, and possibly final leg upward.
I just thought you’d like to know.
Apple: More Than Just a Bounce?