Beaten and bruised but apparently not broken, Barron’s has named Apple (AAPL) at the top of the list among its 10 favorite stock picks moving into 2013. Apple shares closed at $533.25 on Friday, down more than 24% from their 52-week high of $705.07, achieved just ahead of Apple’s iPhone 5 launch in September. Since then, the stock has fallen off a cliff, but Barron’s says recovery is imminent in 2013.
“Apple is still going strong, even as the company’s shares have traded down 23%, to around $540, from a September peak of $705,” Barron’s associate editor Andrew Bary wrote. “None of the recent investor concerns — lower margins, supply constraints, management changes, iPad competition, and the iPhone 5 map fiasco — are major. It’s true that Apple’s earnings growth has slowed to a 23% rate from more than 100% a year ago, but that’s understandable, given the company’s $156 billion in annual sales.”
Bary goes on to note that Apple is trading at its lowest price/earnings ratio in five years. “Apple trades for only 11 times projected profit of $49 a share in its current fiscal year, ending in September 2013,” Bary wrote. “Strip out Apple’s huge cash holding of $128 a share, and the effective P/E is just eight.”
He continued, “Even after implementing a dividend — now providing a 1.9% yield — and a modest buyback program, Apple should build cash at a rate of $40 billion annually. There’s room for a higher dividend and a more aggressive share-repurchase program in 2013. Both could play well with investors.”
Barron’s issued a similar list of top stock picks last year, which yielded a 17% return, beating the S&P500′s 12.6% growth in 2012. Other stocks on the site’s 2013 list include Barnes & Noble (BKS), BlackRock, Marathon Petroleum, Novartis, Royal Dutch and Western Digital.