Darren Rovell and Marc Stein:

With Durant on the verge of a move to Under Armour, sources told ESPN on Sunday that Nike exercised its right to match any rival shoe company’s offer to the Oklahoma City Thunder star. A source with knowledge of the deal later told ESPN that Durant has indeed signed with the Oregon-based company.

Nike countered Under Armour’s offer of between $265 million and $285 million and believes it will keep Kevin Durant for the next 10 years, sources told ESPN.

The most interesting aspect of this isn’t that Nike beat out Under Armour, it’s that Durant went with Nike even though Under Armour’s deal was said to include a huge chunk of Under Armour stock. This is the same type of deal Under Armour cut with the NFL owners in 2006 to get their foot in the door — and it’s worked out very well for the NFL ($4.5M turned into well over $100M). 

Hard to see the downside of going with Nike here, but it could end up being shortsighted by Durant.

Philip Elmer-DeWitt:

Last quarter, Apple finally made a major acquisition. And what did it buy?

It bought Apple.

By my (revised) calculation, the company spent $16 billion last quarter ($4 billion in cash, $12 billion through the so-called accelerated share repurchase program) to purchase 32.5 million of its own shares at an average price of about $492.

For that kind of money, Apple could buy Nokia. Or BlackBerry three times over.

Yeah, but buying Nokia or BlackBerry would have been horrible investments…

Speaking of Apple stock nonsense, here’s a great reminder by Abdel Ibrahim of The Tech Block:

The entire point of showing you these charts is not to give you some Jim Cramer buy signal. It’s to tell you to ignore the bullshit headlines that seem to be flooding the internet and newspapers. They come from analysts. Analysts with agendas to either inflate the price of a stock they own or deflate the price of a stock they want. Regardless, good companies will continue to thrive and bad companies will continue to fail. Apple, in my eyes, is still a very good company. Time will tell if I’m right or wrong.

History. It repeats.

I’ve fixed Nick Wingfield’s headline for The New York Times.

The main problem is that if you had written this post on September 19, 2012, the story would have been that Apple’s stock is up roughly $320 a share — nearly 100 percent — since the day Tim Cook took over as CEO. 

Under Ballmer, Microsoft’s stock price has never been higher than when he took over. That was January of 2000 and the stock was around $100 a share. The closest the stock has come to that again under Ballmer was around $50 a share, leading up to the stock split in 2003. Since then, the stock has basically hovered in the $20s a share range for a decade.

In other words, when you point out that Cook’s tenure has seen a collapse of Apple’s stock price, it’s silly not to mention that it was a fall from the unbelievable highs that he also presided over. With Ballmer, he’s presided over a loss of the market value that was run up by his predecessor, Bill Gates. 

Anyway, I actually agree with the sub-point — that a stock price is often not as closely tied to financial performance as one might imagine. That has been made very clear with Apple. Instead, it’s largely a game about trying to predict the future. And some now feel that Apple’s future is as bleak as the future people have been predicting for Microsoft for the last 10 years (myself included).

But Apple’s stock crash has a different feel, in my opinion. It feels like hedge funds and other large entities are playing a different game with the most valuable company in the world. And the people who don’t realize that are on the losing side of that game, and will remain there.

Michael J. De La Merced for NYT’s DealBook discussing hedge fund manager David Einhorn’s lawsuit against Apple:

Mr. Einhorn on Thursday compared Apple to his grandmother, whose experience surviving the Great Depression molded her into an extreme saver who did not leave voice mail messages for fear of using extra cellphone minutes. The company’s own near-death experience in 1997, he said, left a similarly profound scar on its corporate psyche.

It is fascinating just how conservative Apple has been with its cash — especially when compared to a company like Amazon, which can’t seem to get its cash off the books fast enough (to Wall Street’s delight, no less). At some point, this will always going to piss off Wall Street.

There’s also a pretty good Branch forming around the related topic of taking Apple private…

jasonpbecker asked:

Would you say that what Apple's earnings reveal is releasing the new iMac may have been a mistake? Yield/manufacturing capacity wasn't sufficient to meet demand, even without evidence of a massive bump due to the new form factor. Given the massive change to the rest of the lineup, maybe Apple should have held off on iMac form factor updates until Q1 or Q2 2013 or released a more modest change.

If you’re thinking from a pure investor standpoint, that’s probably a fair assessment. Apple clearly slipped up from a supply standpoint and, as a result, it partially screwed up their earnings. But Apple has a history of shipping products when they’re ready not when Wall Street would like them. I think to do the latter would be a huge mistake, obviously.

There’s no question that Apple screwed up here, but they perhaps should have pushed the iMac slightly to meet consumer demand, not Wall Street.

Chris O’Brien of The L.A. Times look at Apple’s recent stock volatility. Talking to Howard Silverblatt, a senior index analyst for S&P Dow Jones Indices:

Silverblatt said the only company that has come close to having such a strong influence on the broader stock markets since World War II is IBM in the early 1980s, when the PC revolution was just getting started. But not only is the value of Apple’s stock remarkable, so is its volatility. Such large stocks rarely have such big, quick swings.

Big Brother.

Apple’s stock briefly dipped below $500-a-share this morning, which is crazy considering it was above $700 in September. And on the surface, there doesn’t appear to be an obvious reason for the downward swing. But as O’Brien explains, a huge swath of institutional investors now own the stock and their actions, often driven by fund goals, drive swings.

Last year, I was super-bullish on Apple’s stock following an earnings miss because it was clear that most analysts were missing something obvious — and that Q1 would be a blow-out, as it was. This year, it’s decidedly more murky. Q1 is still going to be massive for Apple, probably their biggest ever, but people are expecting more.

Still, Apple around $500 seems like an absolute steal (their P/E is half of Google’s). No, I don’t own any Apple stock, but if it actually goes below $500, I’ll have to consider it because I’m a sane person.

The stock will open tomorrow well above $700 (it’s $702 right now in after-hours). The market cap is at $655 billion — it’s now nearly $400 billion ahead of Microsoft.

It was only May 26, 2010 that Microsoft was still ahead in that regard. Since then, Microsoft has gained around $35 billion in value. Apple has gained $430 billion.