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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Autumn Statement 2015: George Osborne abandons his target

How will George Osborne close the deficit after his U-Turns? Answer: he won't, of course. 

“Good governments U-Turn, and U-Turn frequently.” That’s Andrew Adonis’ maxim, and George Osborne borrowed heavily from him today, delivering two big U-Turns, on tax credits and on police funding. There will be no cuts to tax credits or to the police.

The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that, in total, the government gave away £6.2 billion next year, more than half of which is the reverse to tax credits.

Osborne claims that he will still deliver his planned £12bn reduction in welfare. But, as I’ve written before, without cutting tax credits, it’s difficult to see how you can get £12bn out of the welfare bill. Here’s the OBR’s chart of welfare spending:

The government has already promised to protect child benefit and pension spending – in fact, it actually increased pensioner spending today. So all that’s left is tax credits. If the government is not going to cut them, where’s the £12bn come from?

A bit of clever accounting today got Osborne out of his hole. The Universal Credit, once it comes in in full, will replace tax credits anyway, allowing him to describe his U-Turn as a delay, not a full retreat. But the reality – as the Treasury has admitted privately for some time – is that the Universal Credit will never be wholly implemented. The pilot schemes – one of which, in Hammersmith, I have visited myself – are little more than Potemkin set-ups. Iain Duncan Smith’s Universal Credit will never be rolled out in full. The savings from switching from tax credits to Universal Credit will never materialise.

The £12bn is smaller, too, than it was this time last week. Instead of cutting £12bn from the welfare budget by 2017-8, the government will instead cut £12bn by the end of the parliament – a much smaller task.

That’s not to say that the cuts to departmental spending and welfare will be painless – far from it. Employment Support Allowance – what used to be called incapacity benefit and severe disablement benefit – will be cut down to the level of Jobseekers’ Allowance, while the government will erect further hurdles to claimants. Cuts to departmental spending will mean a further reduction in the numbers of public sector workers.  But it will be some way short of the reductions in welfare spending required to hit Osborne’s deficit reduction timetable.

So, where’s the money coming from? The answer is nowhere. What we'll instead get is five more years of the same: increasing household debt, austerity largely concentrated on the poorest, and yet more borrowing. As the last five years proved, the Conservatives don’t need to close the deficit to be re-elected. In fact, it may be that having the need to “finish the job” as a stick to beat Labour with actually helped the Tories in May. They have neither an economic imperative nor a political one to close the deficit. 

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