Tickers in this Article: AAPL, MSFT, DELL, AMZN
As a value investor, it pays never to make blind assumptions. For example, despite being a tech company and trading for nearly 20 times earnings, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) may be the one tech play that provides a great blend of both value and growth. (To learn more about growth and value stocks, read our Stock-Picking Strategies Tutorial sections on Growth Investing and Value Investing.)

IN PICTURES: What Is Your Risk Tolerance?

Just A Thought

Before suggesting why Apple shares may be worth a bite even today, it's a virtual certainty that this company's best gains have come and gone forever. Over the past decade, against a negative real return for the S&P 500 over that time, Apple shares have been one of, if not the, most spectacular investments. At the beginning of 2000, shares were trading hands for $25 and today are up 10-fold from that price. That price change equates to an annualized return of over 25% a year. For those that got lucky and bought shares when they were below $10 anytime in 2000 or later in 2002, the returns are even better. Don't expect those numbers over the next decade.

On The Other Hand

However, over the next few years Apple shares could still deliver double-digit annual returns. Trading at 19 times earnings is a fraction of the growth rate that this company has enjoyed over the past several years. That growth doesn't appear to face any significant hurdles that would curtail it significantly. In fact, Apple has a history of beating estimates. The company trades for 15 times forward earnings.

That still looks rich compared to Dell (Nasdaq: DELL) or Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), both of which are trading at under 10 times forward earnings. On the other hand, Apple's innovative products continue to capture consumer market share, and the company is growing at rates that easily surpass Dell and Microsoft. And Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN), which recently reported a weaker than expected quarter and forward outlook, is changing hands at over 30 times forward earnings.

Just The Beginning Or The End?

Apple is just starting to benefit from the iPad. The company sold over 3 million units in the first three months, easily surpassing the most optimistic of sales forecasts. The iPhone 4, despite reports of an antenna glitch, continues to sell strong. What many may find most interesting regarding Apple, however, is that highly successful investor David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital recently disclosed buying shares in the second quarter of 2010. Einhorn commented, "The opportunity to invest in this leading company (with a better financial profile than market participants seem to acknowledge) appears iTractive."

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