Apple is now a no-growth 'value trap': Doug Kass
Are Apple shares cheap? Now that they've fallen over 10 percent on the back of Apple's recent product launch, it seems to be a fair question. But even though Apple now has a lower price-to-earnings ratio than do slow-growth companies like Microsoft, Intel, or IBM, Doug Kass says the stock still doesn't present an attractive value.
"Apple has become a value trap," the founder of Seabreeze Partners Management said. "This is a company with no growth, and profit margins that are way too high vis a vis the competition."
Indeed, at its latest media event, Apple disappointed many investors but not releasing a much cheaper iPhone, as some had been pining for. Instead, Apple released more high-end phones that will keep profit margins high, but threaten to do further damage to the company's already-declining market share.
(Read more: At a crossroads, Apple must make one huge decision)
"We remain disappointed with Apple's decision to remain a premium priced smartphone vendor," Credit Suisse analyst Kulbinder Garcha wrote in a note that downgraded the stock to "neutral" from "outperform" after the event. "On our new estimates, Apple's smartphone share will decline to 15.5 percent/13.1 percent this year and next from 18.1 percent last year."
But Kass says that there's a second issue at work: While Apple's prices have stayed high, the company has not delivered innovation to keep pace.
"A year ago, Apple was selling a superior product and was charging a premium price," Kass said. "Now, they're selling a less-than-superior product, and still charging a premium price."
It's not just market share, then, that will drop. "The profit margins have no place to go but down," he said.
(Read more: Expect 'wow' product from Apple: Pro)
Kass sees Apple as a classic story of overoptimistic expectations. "The bulls took a lot for granted in terms of extrapolating the company's growth, and now reality is setting in."
All in all, the stock is currently "close to fairly priced," Kass told CNBC.com. In fact, though he had been short Apple, Kass covered that short position into the stock's recent decline.
"For the foreseeable future, it will move 50 points up or 50 points down," he said. So whether you're a bull or a bear on the stock, "that's not an attractive reward for your risk."