Do you ever consider a company like Apple and think, if I had only taken the chance early on, I could have hit the investing home run of a lifetime? But now it’s too late. There will never be another opportunity like that.

That sort of regret can be easy to feel, whether you are a professional or a sometime investor. But I suggest taking a broader perspective to put Apple and other fast-growing companies in context in order to gain more stable long-term profits.

First, let’s raise your pain level concerning Apple. Adjusted for later stock splits, trading began in January 1984 at about $3.50 per share. It hit its dot-com period high in March 2000 at $37.60, a 974 percent rise. However, you could have bought it for your spouse for Christmas on Dec. 20 of that year for $6.82 a share, marked down 81 percent. Fast forward to a pre-crash high of $202.96 on Dec. 27, 2007.

The bulls and bears battled on, and Apple bottomed at $78.20 in January 2009. On Sept. 21, it hit an all-time intraday high of $705.07, another 800 percent gain. From $3.50 that is a 20,000 percent gain.

Since then, it has fallen $101, down 14 percent through last Friday. So is it a bargain now or a falling knife that is too dangerous to catch? Good question, but at this point, I want to change your perspective to see that opportunities abound. Do not despair.

Through the 26th, in the past year, 92 companies of the Russell 1000 have gained at least 50 percent in price value. While Apple rose by 80 percent, it comes in only 24th on the list. Do you remember AOL, a seemingly has-been Internet service provider? It came in first at 200 percent, followed closely by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals at 196. Pulte Homes is up by 186. A homebuilder? Our own hometown Sprint is 153 percent higher than a year ago.

There always have been and always will be opportunities in an increasingly capitalistic global economy. In fact, there will always be more than you can realistically follow or capture.

Like you, I do not know who will win the presidential election. But what I do know is that in spite of problems, uncertainties, global politics, devalued money, higher taxes and anything else that can and will happen, opportunities will still be there. But to profit, it takes homework, strategies, trading rules, and some faith that human beings will continue trying to better themselves and our condition through goods and services.

By way of disclosure, we hold Apple at this time within several mutual funds but not separately. We have owned it separately, taking a bite during the timeframe discussed. (Pardon the pun – I couldn’t help myself.) It will probably be a good buy again, but I want to see it show a hard floor price before I reenter. Its price-to-earnings ratio is reasonable at 14.2, but growth has been slowing. One indicator called the accumulation/distribution ratio is very negative right now.

(Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Data derived from Worden Brothers Inc., TeleChart software, 2012, and Investors Business Daily, Investors.com, 2012.)


Ron Finke is president of Stewardship Capital, a registered investment adviser. This is general advice and not meant to contain specific recommendations. Reach Finke at rcfinke@stewcap.com.