Is Google’s share price about to crash?

Could be about to follow Apple.

Following the poor performance of Apple shares over the past 8 months, many investors are starting to wonder if Google shares are about to follow a similar fate.

Apple’s share price has dropped from over US$700 in September 2012 to US$440 in May 2013. Over the same period, Google’s share price has increased from less than US$700 to over US$900.

What lies Beneath

Apple shares now trade a relatively low multiple for a tech company. The company currently has a trailing PE ratio of 10.5x and a forward PE ratio of 9.9x (for year-end 2014). This shows that the market expects little further growth from the company after 2014.

On the other hand, Google is valued highly. It trades at 27x earning on a trailing basis and 17x on a forward basis.

The Steve Jobs factor

There is no doubt that Steve Jobs was a revolutionary thinker. His multiple successes at Apple and Pixar are testament to that.

When he died, many felt that Apple would struggle immediately. However, these fears were quelled as Apple’s share price rose strongly. When Jobs died in October 2011, Apple share price was at US$400. Then, following a few months of static growth, the share price rose steadily to reach its peak of US$705 in September 2012.

The share price then declined heavily, dipping to as low as US$390 in April 2013, before recovering to US$440 in May 2013.

Why has this happened?

There are a number of possible reasons for this decline, including:

  • Apple’s upcoming products lack the enthusiasm they had under Jobs and although their previous products remain market leaders, they now face strong competition from the likes of Samsung, Google and Amazon.
  • Now that a couple of years have passed many of the best ideas that Jobs put in place – the ipod, the iphone, the ipad - have been used up and any new products going forward will have to be ones that he was not involved with. While there is no disputing that Apple still has a great design team led by Jonathan Ive, they perhaps lack the final decision over which new product to go with. Steve Jobs was notoriously difficult to argue with and that was surely one of his greatest strengths in pushing through products he liked.
  • With Jobs gone, Apple’s rivals sense blood. They know that Apple’s x-factor is gone and have therefore been more keen to innovate themselves. In short, the fear that Apple will always be two steps ahead is gone.

In closing, Apple’s core consumers loved Steve Jobs. They went wild when he gave his speeches in his turtle neck at product unveilings. They lined up to meet him. They slept on the streets outside Apple stores to be the first to get their hands on his latest gadgets. They miss him… and the market has finally started to realise it.

Google, on the other hand, is a different story.

Photograph: Getty Images

Andrew Amoils is a writer for WealthInsight

Photo: Getty Images
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The buck doesn't stop with Grant Shapps - and probably shouldn't stop with Lord Feldman, either

The question of "who knew what, and when?" shouldn't stop with the Conservative peer.

If Grant Shapps’ enforced resignation as a minister was intended to draw a line under the Mark Clarke affair, it has had the reverse effect. Attention is now shifting to Lord Feldman, who was joint chair during Shapps’  tenure at the top of CCHQ.  It is not just the allegations of sexual harrassment, bullying, and extortion against Mark Clarke, but the question of who knew what, and when.

Although Shapps’ resignation letter says that “the buck” stops with him, his allies are privately furious at his de facto sacking, and they are pointing the finger at Feldman. They point out that not only was Feldman the senior partner on paper, but when the rewards for the unexpected election victory were handed out, it was Feldman who was held up as the key man, while Shapps was given what they see as a relatively lowly position in the Department for International Development.  Yet Feldman is still in post while Shapps was effectively forced out by David Cameron. Once again, says one, “the PM’s mates are protected, the rest of us shafted”.

As Simon Walters reports in this morning’s Mail on Sunday, the focus is turning onto Feldman, while Paul Goodman, the editor of the influential grassroots website ConservativeHome has piled further pressure on the peer by calling for him to go.

But even Feldman’s resignation is unlikely to be the end of the matter. Although the scope of the allegations against Clarke were unknown to many, questions about his behaviour were widespread, and fears about the conduct of elections in the party’s youth wing are also longstanding. Shortly after the 2010 election, Conservative student activists told me they’d cheered when Sadiq Khan defeated Clarke in Tooting, while a group of Conservative staffers were said to be part of the “Six per cent club” – they wanted a swing big enough for a Tory majority, but too small for Clarke to win his seat. The viciousness of Conservative Future’s internal elections is sufficiently well-known, meanwhile, to be a repeated refrain among defenders of the notoriously opaque democratic process in Labour Students, with supporters of a one member one vote system asked if they would risk elections as vicious as those in their Tory equivalent.

Just as it seems unlikely that Feldman remained ignorant of allegations against Clarke if Shapps knew, it feels untenable to argue that Clarke’s defeat could be cheered by both student Conservatives and Tory staffers and the unpleasantness of the party’s internal election sufficiently well-known by its opponents, without coming across the desk of Conservative politicians above even the chair of CCHQ’s paygrade.

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.