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Apple Should Not Be Trading at This Multiple: Cramer

Thursday, 24 Jan 2013 | 10:05 AM ET
Cramer: Will Apple Gap Down?
The "Squawk on the Street" crew weighs in on how low Apple stock will go. "This is a reset," Cramer said.

"It's just not fair" how investors are treating Apple, CNBC's Jim Cramer said Thursday, a day after Apple reported earnings that beat Wall Street estimates but saw disappointing revenue numbers.

Analysts are struggling to figure out how to value the company. On Wednesday, Apple's stock price dipped to its lowest level in a year in after market trading. When Cramer spoke just before the market opened Thursday, it was trading in the $450 range.

"I could argue that $458 is a good place to step in. It won't trade at six times earnings for long," Cramer said, perplexed that Apple was trading at the same ratio as Microsoft, which he sees acting more like a utility company than a tech behemoth.

Apple "should not be trading at the same multiple as Microsoft," he said on "Squawk on the Street." "It's just not fair."

Earlier this month, Cramer called Apple a "tough own" and reiterated this sentiment that the Apple ecosystem brings with it a range of concerns and unknowns.

He said analysts are now forced to value it in the way that they do IBM, Microsoft or Intel. No company wants to be looked at like this, Cramer said.

"This is a reset," said Cramer, who likened Apple's situation to that of Netflix and Facebook, which have been somewhat vindicated by the street after poor stock performance. Apple, however, has yet to convince investors of the company's long-term upside value.

"This company needs an 'OMG' moment, and it needs it now," said Cramer, who suggested that Apple's cash stockpile could potentially be used to instantly leapfrog the company into a new market and transform it. "Apple feels like a pitiful, helpless giant," he said.

What Cramer wants to hear is that the company has "something," but right now the street isn't convinced that there is a knock-out product in the pipeline, he said.

For the fiscal first quarter, Apple posted net income of $13.07 billion, or $13.81 a diluted share, compared to $13.06 billion, or $13.87 a share, a year earlier. Analysts had expected the company to report earnings of $13.47 a share on $54.73 billion in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

Wall Street was clearly disappointed with the revenue miss from the world's most valuable company, leading some to believe that the announcement could have negative implications for the broader tech sector.

Some analysts, like Jeff Gundlach, CEO of DoubleLine Capital, were increasingly critical of Apple after the earnings release, calling it "a broken company." They suggested that the stock price could drop to $425 per share.

Across the street, price targets on Apple were cut at many top banks, including Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, UBS and Oppenheimer. Goldman kept Apple on its conviction buy list but cut its target from $760 to $660, Deutsche Bank maintained a buy but moved its price target from $800 to $575; Credit Suisse listed Apple as outperform, moving its target from $750 to $600.

By CNBC's Paul Toscano

— Reuters contributed to this article.

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  • Carl Quintanilla is an Emmy-winning reporter and co-anchor of CNBC's "Squawk on the Street," broadcast live from the NYSE.

  • Simon Hobbs co-anchors the 10 a.m. hour of CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" live from the New York Stock Exchange.

  • Jim Cramer is host of CNBC's "Mad Money" and co-anchor of the 9 a.m. ET hour of CNBC's "Squawk on the Street."

  • Co-anchor of CNBC's "Squawk on the Street," David Faber also is a co-producer of CNBC's original documentaries.

  • Rick Santelli joined CNBC Business News as an on-air editor in 1999, reporting live from the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade.