Markets

Apple Just Lost a Disney's Worth in Market Cap, But Two Traders Are Split on Whether the Stock Is a Buy

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Apple's recent fall from grace is putting traders in a bind.

The stock's nearly 12% decline from its late January peak has set its market cap back over $365 billion, larger than the individual market caps of Bank of America, Disney and Nike.

Though the stock climbed about 1.5% in early Thursday trading as part of a broader tech rebound, one money manager said Wednesday he didn't see the stock moving significantly higher from here.

"I think it either kind of stagnates in here or goes lower," Quint Tatro, chief investment officer at Joule Financial, told CNBC's "Trading Nation" in an interview Wednesday.

"It really has been very profitable in the past to be a buyer of Apple when it's fundamentally attractive, and believe it or not, there's been many times over the years where that's been the case," he said. "Unfortunately, today and right now is not one of those times."

His chief concerns were tied to the company's valuation — he noted the stock was trading at roughly 7 times price to sales and 30 times price to book value "after basically levering up their balance sheet" — and its growth projections.

Apple slashed its iPhone orders by 20% for the first half of 2021, according to reports published Wednesday in Nikkei Asia.

"Their growth rate for next year is really not all that attractive," Tatro said. "There's just better opportunities out there right now and we would not venture into this name looking for a bargain."

Michael Binger, the president of Gradient Investments, took the other side of the trade.

"After this tech sell-off we've had, Apple is a buy," Binger said in the same "Trading Nation" interview.

"They cut production 20% in the first half of the year, but they're continuing to keep their full-year production going at close to 12%," he said. "I think 12% growth in iPhone on a year-over-year basis is pretty darn good. We would be a buyer."

Though Apple does trade at a lofty price-to-earnings multiple, not many in the Wall Street community use earnings to value technology stocks anymore, Binger said, calling Apple a "core holding."

"Twenty percent of Apple's business model going forward is going to be from recurring revenue in the services area. I think that's going to help hold that multiple in the mid- to high 20s," Binger said.

"I look at various tailwinds for Apple. I see 5G adoption. I still think we're going to see an iPhone 12 supercycle. I see wearables gaining traction," he said. "I think all these things are tails for Apple. So, we own it here. We continue to own it. If you don't own it, I would add it right here. We think Apple is a buy at these levels."

Disclosure: Joule Financial and Gradient Investments own shares of Apple.

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