Mac Scope

Gambling on Apple

Stephen Van Esch - 2001.10.17

A class action lawsuit was launched against Apple yesterday: Milberg Weiss Files Class Action Lawsuit against Apple Computer, Inc. and its CEO.

This type of action usually occurs because of a massive misunderstanding on the part of "investors." During the heady days of the technology boom, buying a technology stock was a no-brainer. Pretty much anything related to technology was on its way up due in no small part to people who had a whole lot of faith, a whole lot of cash, and very little else.

Investing in the stock market has never been an easy way to make money. Picking winners and weeding out the losers is a very tedious process which requires a good measure of data crunching and faith that history will hold. Invariably, however, most investors read the investor recommendation in the paper, get a "hot tip" from someone at work, or just get caught up in the products of a particular company. This, unfortunately, is no substitute for proper research and measured risk.

Power Mac G4 CubeThere's no doubt that Apple was doing well last year. Their products were hot, and people were buying them like crazy. However, people that looked at Apple and its latest product offerings and decided the stock was the best thing going weren't looking at the big picture. Several Mac news outlets - both online and off - were spelling out the future of the Cube in black and white: too expensive, no clear spot in the product line up, very few expansion options. While many of us were wowed by the Cube's fantastic design, many Mac users knew that it wouldn't be a computer they would buy.

Of course, any of these negative opinions from Mac press stalwarts would be useful information if you were looking at buying Apple stock. Somehow I don't believe that most of the people involved in this lawsuit were even doing the minimum required research that would allow them to make an educated decision.

When it comes to investing, it pays to ignore the press releases and newscasts. Trust your own research, look at the stocks historic highs and lows, do some rudimentary calculations and then make an informed decision.

Here's a news flash for would be investors: The stock market is a crapshoot. Odds might be better than your average betting parlor, but predicting the future is rarely a lucrative endeavor. Being a savvy investor requires a large dose of hard work, patience, and a little bit of guts to stick to you guns if things go bad. Unfortunately, these traits are in very short supply in the world today.

If you're going to rely on a company to provide a completely accurate forecast or banking that a few products will boost the stock through the roof, you'd be better off settling down in Vegas.

As for the four top executives selling stock at the high point: That's something that should be looked at closely and dealt with accordingly. A few people dealing in insider trading cannot, however, be inflated to compensate folks who probably shouldn't have been investing in the first place.

To those who are part of this lawsuit: Chalk it up as a learning experience, because it's nothing more than that. LEM

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Stephen Van Esch is the founder and president of the E-learning Foundry, an online training resource for Mac users. Steve loves the Mac and is doubly bilingual, since he's also fluent in Windows and French.

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