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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David Cameron’s starter homes: poor policy, but good politics

David Cameron's electoral coalition of buy-to-let retirees and dual-earner couples remains intact: for now.

The only working age demographic to do better under the Coalition was dual-earner couples – without children. They were the main beneficiaries of the threshold raise – which may “take the poorest out of tax” in theory but in practice hands a sizeable tax cut to peope earning above average. They will reap the fruits of the government’s Help to Buy ISAs. And, not having children, they were insulated from cuts to child tax credits, reductions in public services, and the rising cost of childcare. (Childcare costs now mean a couple on average income, working full-time, find that the extra earnings from both remaining in work are wiped out by the costs of care)

And they were a vital part of the Conservatives’ electoral coalition. Voters who lived in new housing estates on the edges of seats like Amber Valley and throughout the Midlands overwhelmingly backed the Conservatives.

That’s the political backdrop to David Cameron’s announcement later today to change planning to unlock new housing units – what the government dubs “Starter Homes”. The government will redefine “affordable housing”  to up to £250,000 outside of London and £450,000 and under within it, while reducing the ability of councils to insist on certain types of buildings. He’ll describe it as part of the drive to make the next ten years “the turnaround decade”: years in which people will feel more in control of their lives, more affluent, and more successful.

The end result: a proliferation of one and two bedroom flats and homes, available to the highly-paid: and to that vital component of Cameron’s coalition: the dual-earner, childless couple, particularly in the Midlands, where the housing market is not yet in a state of crisis. (And it's not bad for that other pillar of the Conservative majority: well-heeled pensioners using buy-to-let as a pension plan.)

The policy may well be junk-rated but the politics has a triple A rating: along with affluent retirees, if the Conservatives can keep those dual-earner couples in the Tory column, they will remain in office for the forseeable future.

Just one problem, really: what happens if they decide they want room for kids? Cameron’s “turnaround decade” might end up in entirely the wrong sort of turnaround for Conservative prospects.

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