Stock sell-off shows an emotional investment in Apple

Hard to imagine anyone lining up for a Microsoft product these days, let alone such hullabaloo for a computer program. Microsoft still dominates the market for operating systems. It has a market valuation of $232.6 billion.

But you probably wouldn't ask the company to dance at a crowded nightclub.

Google, Facebook, Twitter — they all are attractive. Then again, you used to go out with Yahoo, MySpace and Friendster, and look where that got you.

I understand there are legions of Apple fanatics out there for whom the company can do no wrong. They're determined to make the relationship work, no matter what.

I never drank the Apple Kool-Aid. They make cool products, no question. Steve Jobs was a compelling figure.

But any company that shrouds itself in more secrecy than the CIA is a little weird by my reckoning. Competitive instincts notwithstanding, Apple always seems as if it's trying to hide something. That doesn't make for a healthy relationship.

More to the point, what has Wall Street so spooked is the realization that Apple may not continue posting stratospheric growth numbers.

"Apple can be the greatest company in the world, but there's some price where it's a lousy stock purchase," said Kent Daniel, a professor of finance at Columbia University in New York.

He agrees with people who long have said that Apple's stock was overpriced, yet Apple has continued pulling high-tech rabbits out of its hat.

"So far," Daniel said, "the naysayers have been wrong."

Is Apple a good investment? Well, like I tell my weatherman friend, if you think the iPad is impressive and you think Apple still has plenty of mojo, stick with them. If not, maybe it's time to move on.

Human relationships are tricky enough. You don't want to get too involved with a corporation.

David Lazarus' columns runs Tuesdays and Fridays. He also can be seen daily on KTLA-TV Channel 5 and followed on Twitter @Davidlaz. Send your tips or feedback to david.lazarus@latimes.com.

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