Friday, February 1, 2013

Apple's Falling Stock Causing Headaches for Investors

I haven't paid attention to Apple's share price, but apparently if you're an investor, it's not the best of times.

At the Wall Street Journal, "Coping With the Pain of Souring Apple Shares: Some Investors See a Cheap Stock, but Others Have Sold Everything; 'Headache, Not a Cancer'":
As the U.S. stock market flirts with record highs, investors who hold big stakes in Apple Inc. AAPL -0.41% are taking a beating.

Since peaking at $705.07 during the day on Sept. 21, Apple shares have fallen 36% to close at $453.62, erasing more than $236 billion in market value—a figure equal to about 35 times the current value of BlackBerry RIM.T +0.70% maker Research In Motion Ltd.

The pain has been widespread. About 60% of actively managed U.S. stock mutual funds that invest in big companies owned at least some Apple shares at the end of the year, according to investment-research firm Morningstar Inc. MORN +0.53% Ninety funds had 10% or more of their portfolios in the stock.

But Apple's plunge is affecting investors in different ways. While some are getting out for good, others are staying put or even buying more. And some are glad they avoided the stock altogether.

Most mutual funds disclose their holdings quarterly, but the 145 actively managed U.S. stock funds that hold Apple and reported monthly results sold a net 223,402 shares, or 3% of their Apple holdings, in December, according to Morningstar, a time when the stock was between 16% and 28% off its peak. Sixty-one funds sold shares, while 45 funds bought.

That doesn't mean all of them took losses. Even with the setback, Apple has generated a total return, including dividends, of about 28% annually over the past five years, versus 4% for the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index. In four of the past 10 years, Apple's stock price has more than doubled, and its only full-year loss over the past decade occurred in 2008.

Here are some examples of how professional money managers and small investors have reacted...
Continue reading.

Now, in related news, it turns out that my wife's iPad has a pretty serious browser glitch. It crashes a lot when I'm going heavy on the YouTube blogging. I love videos. And I thought Apple was going to be an improvement over the others, like Chrome. And it seemed like it for awhile, although it's been crashing pretty regularly, and not just this last few days. I found an article on this, at OS X Daily, "Fix Safari Crashing on iPad and iOS 5." I'm not going to worry about the fix, since it's not my device and my wife hasn't complained. We bought the extended warranty, in any case, so I'll bring it up with the Apple folks next time we're down at the Irvine Spectrum retail store. Still, folks should read this comment at the OS X Daily piece, from Martin Bloom":
In early Janurary I went onto the Apple Community discussion board because of my iPad 1 continually crashing after updating to IOS 5.  Specifically Safari would crash on sites rich with images and/or imbedded videos (techcrunch, techradar, etc).  Also iTunes wouldn’t stay open. And using the back arrow on sites like CNN and other news sites would bring up an old front page rather than the newer page.

At first I was just a viewer until some people, who were rudely dismissive of people’s crash problems, said that only signed in complaints were indicators of the breadth of the problem and the number of  ”views” didn’t count. So i signed in to: Re Safari crashes on iPad after ios 5 update.

I related that I had the same problems since ios 5, that I tried every fix written about to no lasting improvement, and that I sent a letter with a printout from the discussion thread to Tim Cook.  Next day I recieved a phone call and email from Apple’s Corporate Executive Relations Office. They were very empathetic and committed to work with me.  They listened to my background in the industry and my list of issues that were also expressed by others on the Apple Community under several separate discussion threads. The main issue being that Apple, apparently didn’t read the threads or was ignoring them.  I expressed that the single most helpful thing they could do would be some type of communication to the groups that they understand, they cared, and are doing everything to find a set of solutions.

They (Corp Exec Relations) assured me that they do look at the discussions, have replicated the problems in tech support and engineering. They also acknowledged a culture of keeping all work close to the vest and this could be hurting them by creating a perception of not caring about the user experience in a “post Jobs era”. They hooked me up with high level tech support and offered to work with me step by step to a resolution.  I said that working with me as an “one off” would deflect resources from solving the overall problems, since they have been documented and replicated.  I told them I would relate this conference with Apple to the discussion threads. These talks and emails with the Corp Office was over several days with much discussion about the impacts of the problems. This included losing the confidence in the reliability of Apple products since many of the iPad purchases and complaints were from PC platform crossovers who moved to Apple’s “because it just worked”. These new users, including corporations who bought hundreds for employees who were saying “never again”.

I then posted my discussions with Apple on the Community thread and was accused by a long time member of my post being a false, and self serving rant. He said he and other long timers took pride in reporting my abuse of the Community rules and had my post removed and my account banned.  I wrote back to the Corp Exec Relations office on the “irony of it all” since this had been a “keep the hope…..they do care” post. The Corp Office got me back on, removing the ban.  But now, no matter what I write, the discussion thread’s monitor removes it saying it is “off topic”.

I have not gotten back to Apple’s Corp Exec Relations regarding my posts being removed and am just waiting for the yet to come, update release with prayers of a fix for all affected users, and for Apple.  Yes, I am still a first in line fanboy.

Marty Bloom, Walnut Creek CA

Sent from my iPad
EXTRA: Here's more tech fun for you, from Twitter, "Keeping our users secure" (at Memeorandum). Twitter was hacked and 250,000 users had their data compromised. It's hard out there for a tweep!