Apple Doesn't Suck -- but Its Stock Does

Tickers in this article: AAPL

BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- If you've been following shares of Apple (AAPL) for the last several months, you know the story. This stock has gotten absolutely shellacked lately.

In the last six months alone, AAPL has dropped more than 25%, no small move for a $430 billion company.

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Recently, TheStreet's Rocco Pendola wrote an article with the headline " All of a Sudden, Apple 'Sucks.' " Well, he got that half right anyway.

Apple doesn't suck. Its stock does.

I realize that may sound like a ridiculous thing to say. But think about what it means for a second, and there's something to it. In fact, it could fuel some serious gains in your portfolio -- if only you're willing to give Mr. Market's most conspicuous fallen angel a second look.

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What Doesn't 'Suck' About Apple

To do that, we've got to take a look at what doesn't suck with Apple.

In a word, it's fundamentals.

Let's be clear, though. When I'm talking about Apple's fundamentals, I'm not talking about the stuff that the analysts are debating right now. I'm not looking at whether Apple still has "it" after Steve Jobs' departure, whether the firm's suppliers are quietly cutting production or whether the new not-so-super-secret Apple television will be a slam dunk for the firm.

I'm talking about simple, old-school valuation metrics. And the story is so clear it's mind-boggling.

The most obvious thing is cash. Apple has lots of it -- around $137 billion in cash and investments at last count. Just for comparison, that's more or less the GDP of Hungary. That's so much cash that Tim Cook could decide to buy BlackBerry (BBRY) on a whim, burn the company to the ground and destroy less shareholder value than Monday's decline did.

And he'd still have another $128 billion left in the company coffers.

It's probably not surprising that Apple has no debt. None.

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There are a couple of caveats to Apple's cash position. First, only around $43 billion of it is located here in the U.S. That means that the firm would have to hand over a big chunk to Uncle Sam if it wanted to repatriate the balance. Yes, I said "only." Where the rubber hits the road for investors, the bottom line is that Apple can still use its foreign cash for actions that directly add value for anyone who owns the stock (think shareholder yield).

On that same cash front, Apple generated around $41.4 billion in free cash flows last year.

Here's a big differentiator, though. There are a handful of other cash-rich companies ( I wrote about some of them last month ) that have been hoarding huge cash positions, but Apple has been one of the few truly good stewards of those shareholder dollars.