Review & Outlook

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Apple is Thriving under Tim Cook

22 September, 2014 by Ben O'Brien in Commentary, Large Cap Stocks


A recent cover story from Businessweek profiles Apple CEO Tim Cook and describes how he has changed the culture of the company. The magazine also published a follow up interview with Cook after Apple’s recent iPhone 6/Watch announcement. Back in 2012 after the death of Steve Jobs the company appeared to be in trouble, and a lot of commentators doubted Cook could fill the shoes of the charismatic founder Jobs.  Both Businessweek pieces are worth reading and give the picture of an Apple that is still innovative and perhaps more focused and efficient that under the sometimes erratic Jobs:

Until Sept. 9, all the other changes at the world’s most valuable and scrutinized company were largely invisible to the public. Then Tim Cook took the stage at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts and laid out much of what Apple has been working on over the past three years. The immediate aftermath is that Apple is swamped by a record number of preorders for the new iPhone 6 and supersize 6 Plus. Bank of America (BAC), Capital One (COF), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), andWells Fargo (WFC), among other banks, plus the major credit card companies and a number of nationwide retailers, have embraced the new mobile payment system, Apple Pay. Even the Apple Watch, the company’s first attempt at launching an entirely new product category in the Cook era, has garnered an encouraging early response, though it will face the only test that matters when it hits stores sometime in 2015.

Even though Cook’s style is opposite that of Jobs in most ways, he has shown he can run the world’s largest company. Though Jobs was undoubtedly a technology and business genius, his eccentricities and almost religious principles about design and management may have held the company back in some respects. Cook seems to have maintained the innovation while also bringing a more rational and shareholder friendly perspective to Apple.

Still, at one point in the article Cook is quoted saying at a shareholder meeting, “I don’t consider the bloody ROI. If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock.” This is a line that could have easily come from Jobs. Its seems that Cook has managed to strike a balance at Apple between idealism and business sense. Even with the stock hovering near its all-time high, it looks attractive with a P/E ratio of only 16.