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David Rolfe Comments on Apple

- By Holly LaFon

Apple (AAPL) was a top relative and absolute contributor to performance during the quarter. The Company's iPhone franchise continues to dominate profitability share within the smartphone OEM market, after the next most profitable competitor (Samsung) incurred sizable losses from a product recall. Apple continues its long history of maintaining a focused hardware portfolio (relative to competitors), while aggressively innovating its in-house software and services capabilities which enables the narrow hardware portfolio to "act" much wider. For example, Apple's revenue from software and services grew almost 20%, to over $24 billion during fiscal 2016. We think Apple's software and services revenue stream has a very attractive profitability profile that should help offset the financial ebbs and flows inherent in the Company's well-established hardware product cycles. Apple exited the most recent quarter with a fortress-like balance sheet, a byproduct of their prodigious free cash flow generation of about $50 billion or more in each of the last three fiscal years. Rumors of the iPhone's demise have once again been greatly exaggerated. With the pent -up demand for the upcoming iPhone 8, free cash flow may challenge the previous fiscal high of nearly $70 billion generated in fiscal 2015. While the stock has performed superbly over the past few quarters, we have pared back positions purely to limit our absolute weighting. That said, we continue to maintain a healthy overweight relative to the benchmark as we think the market continues to under-appreciate Apple's competitive positioning and long-term opportunities for profitable growth.

From David Rolfe (Trades, Portfolio)'s Wedgewood Partners first-quarter 2017 shareholder letter.
This article first appeared on GuruFocus.