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Apple Inc. (AAPL), Splunk Inc (SPLK): Has This Tech Titan Lost Its Way?

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Every year Fast Company lists the 20 most innovative companies and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) was outranked by several publicly traded companies: NIKE, Inc. (NYSE:NKE) at number one, Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) at two, Splunk Inc (NASDAQ:SPLK) at four, Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) at ten and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) at 11 with Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) trailing at 13.

SPLK Total Return Price data by YCharts

Mired in the doldrums?

Each of these companies’ stocks has performed better than Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and in these doldrums that Apple has been sailing in seemingly forever, one has to wonder if their North Star truly was Steve Jobs.

With few tailwinds and plenty of headwinds how much longer before Apple shareholders and activist investors mutiny? How much longer will they grumble below decks, “When is Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s “Next Big Thing” coming out?”

I’ve been an Apple fangirl for some time, but where is the Apple TV, the one that is supposed to change the way we watch TV forever, I ask you? The iWatch? Both are under construction but unlike a real construction site, there’s no window to watch men at work. Of course, that’s part of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s secretive nature.

From patent applications and hiring of haute couture names we know the iWatch is underway but have no clue to a timeframe. There have even been rumored problems of employees trying to jump ship according to the Financial Times including a senior worker on the iWatch.

The Fast Company inclusion of Apple was for its iPad retina display, nice but not disruptive. The share price will probably tread water as more innovative companies’ share prices soar.

Should you sail along with Splunk?

Splunk Inc (NASDAQ:SPLK)Splunk Inc (NASDAQ:SPLK), the Big Data name that has moved up 78% this last year and has almost doubled from its 52 week low in November. Fast Company also named Splunk the top innovator in Big Data.

Splunk Inc (NASDAQ:SPLK) has been reporting losses with 2014 Q1 non-GAAP loss of $0.06 per share and the forward P/E at 422.67 is even higher than Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN)’s 96.7. The company did raise guidance for FY 2014 revenues but non-GAAP margin is expected to remain at the previously guided range of zero.

This software application company is the correlator/aggregator/translator of eyeballs on the internet, customer complaints, and financial transaction, what is otherwise called “Big Data”, for its customers which have been growing by 20-30% every year. Their industry has favorable headwinds as well with the demand for Big Data expected to grow revenues from $9.7 billion for the industry in 2013 to over $16 billion in just three years.

The company has one particularly formidable competitor in International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM), a time proven proposition with yield, a trailing P/E of 13.25 and a PEG of only 1.19. However, analysts really like Splunk Inc (NASDAQ:SPLK) with 1 Strong Buy, 13 Buys and 5 Holds even after it surpassed its median price target of $50.00. The short interest is growing which isn’t surprising but it is surprising it’s only 5.40%.

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