Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) officially released its much-anticipated new smartphone this week, the iPhone 7. The new device will go on sale in Canada on September 16.
Although the new smartphone has a number of changes–including new colours, an improved camera design, a force sensitive home key, dust and water resistant design, and, perhaps most importantly, the removal of the headphone jack–most people reacted to the announcement with a collective yawn.
Most of the major changes had been leaked months ago, and the technology doesn’t exist today to make any groundbreaking changes. Smartphones were revolutionary new products 10 years ago. That isn’t the case today.
Still, Apple will likely sell millions of the new phones, even though the cost to buy one outright approaches $1,000. Carriers will offer discounts to customers who sign up for a new contract, which will bring the device’s price down to a more affordable level.
Somewhat surprisingly, Apple shares fell after the new iPhone was introduced. There are a couple reasons for this. First, investors like to buy the rumuor and sell the news. Shares of any company tend to go up before a product is officially announced and then fall immediately afterwards. This has been the trend for Apple shares almost every time it introduces a new product.
Investors are also a little concerned because the new phone lacks a killer app–something that makes the public say “wow.” This lack of anything exciting could lead to lacklustre sales, or so goes the logic.
Although Apple has been a terrific investment over the years, I continue to be nervous about buying shares. Apple is the biggest company in the world. It has sold more than a billion phones. Millions and millions of people refuse to buy anything else. And if phones aren’t enough for you, it manages to sell watches, tablets, and computers at a premium compared to its competition.
It’s a wonderful business. Yet it only trades at 12.3 times trailing earnings. That tells me the market is convinced earnings will, at best, remain stagnant.
Instead, I’m convinced there’s a better way to play the new iPhone mania–one that’s linked to smartphone usage overall, just in case Apple loses its commanding lead in the space.
Let’s face it; we’re becoming more and more addicted to our screens. Our smartphones are the first thing we look at in the morning and the last thing we see at night. When we’re bored, the first thing we do is whip out our phone to see the latest thing on Twitter or Facebook, even though such thing probably isn’t very important.
No matter what device somebody uses, mobile data is the key to getting there. And unlike its two main competitors that dabble in areas of the market like media and owning sports teams, Telus is more of a pure-play data company. Whether the data is mobile or through wifi, Telus is the gateway.
There are other reasons to like Telus as well. The management team is clearly top notch, implementing changes like actually investing in front-line employees. I’m a Telus customer, and I can attest personally just how well I’m treated every time I call in.
Management is also dedicated to giving back to shareholders. Since the end of 2012 the company has spent millions buying back more than 60 million shares. In that same period dividends have gone up nearly 45% from $0.32 per share, per quarter to today’s level of $0.46. That’s a yield of 4.4%.
The investing theme for Telus is as simple as it is powerful. Data will continue to become more and more important. You can play this trend through Apple, but there are risks there. Telus is poised to dominate data for years to come, making it a very compelling long-term opportunity.