Apple's Black Friday Statement

TheStreet.com

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- It's really not even worth mentioning what Apple AAPL did on Black Friday last year. Unless I look it up, I can't be sure of the particulars: $100 off a Mac? $60 off an iPad? Something like that.

Apple doesn't do meaningful discounts.

It floats the aforementioned "sale" from time to time. It reduces the price of old iPhones when a new model comes out, and offers deals alongside its education pricing.

For example, when I bought my MacBook Pro with Retina Display, I did it under my wife's name because she works in education. I think I saved $100 or $200 on the laptop. Apple also threw in a $100 gift card for the Apple Store. It was a Back to School promo.

I don't expect much, if anything, to change. Apple has no reason to shock us, make headlines or reinvent the pinwheel on Black Friday. That better not change this year.

Everybody loves Apple, wants it products and is entranced by the lifted skirt and perfumed inner thigh of its dominance.

Up until a couple of weeks ago, Steve Jobs was nothing but a distant memory. Tim Cook did things Jobs never would have done -- issued a dividend/buyback, published a genuine apology letter, churned out an iPad mini -- and the world shot you down if you questioned the moves, let alone made comparisons between the two CEOs.

AAPL drops a hundred bucks and, suddenly, Cook v. Jobs not only becomes fair game, it's a commonplace analysis.

This is the work of Johnny-come-lately analysts. The types who hit the news feeds Wednesday morning with downgrades and price target reductions on Hewlett-Packard HPQ and Best Buy BBY .

I don't expect Cook to do anything out of the ordinary for Black Friday. If he does, Apple really has changed, and not for the better.

Apple. Lululemon LULU . Tesla Motors TSLA . Starbucks SBUX . Whole Foods Market WFM .

With broad use of the term "retailers," these outfits are the retailers of the decade, if not the century.

While resellers go as low as Apple will allow on the company's products, Apple has pricing power. While stores have to bundle gift cards -- not just as an education perk -- with Amazon.com AMZN and Google GOOG tablets, Apple has pricing power.

The same general principles apply at LULU, TSLA, SBUX and WFM.

These companies can aggressively maintain premium pricing because:
  • They know their relatively affluent markets and do such a tremendous job connecting with them.
  • They make smart real estate decisions, placing stores where this affluence hangs its hat (and/or vacations!).
  • They provide unique in-store environments.
  • They have exclusive or semi-exclusive premium products that tap into consumer psychology and/or are really better than the rest. It's a powerful blend of perception and reality.

LULU should not be able to sell $150-$200 yoga apparel. Sure, it's well-made, but it's all psychological. There's lots of well-made yoga apparel out there at more "reasonable" prices.

Tesla doesn't just have an electric car, it has one that's faster than a freaking Porsche. And it's the Motor Trend car of the year.

Starbucks can charge relatively absurd amounts of dollar bills for a cup of coffee -- and really ding you with the add-ons -- because it provides all types of cool experiences -- from its well-known in-store vibe to its emerging mobile traffic push and presence.

Whole Foods might be the best example. We like to think it shed its "Whole Paycheck" image, but that's all perception.

I started going to Whole Foods more frequently when it made an aggressive push with its "Everyday 365" value line. This strategy really did result in lower prices on key items throughout the store. But, again, it's so psychological.

Unless you're ultra-disciplined and go grocery shopping after overeating on Thanksgiving, your total bill at checkout is as big as, if not bigger than it ever was thanks to high-margin items ranging from wine to cheese to candy to hummus.

These are the companies that own the upper-mid to high-end consumers that matter. They rule mindshare more than they do marketshare.

The only name I might hold back on buying into 2013 is TSLA. The others will blow out their respective holiday quarters.

At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

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