Google vs. Apple: A Tale of Two Stocks

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With apologies to Charles Dickens it was the best of times it was the worst of times. But this isn't a tale about Paris and London, it's about technology.

Shares of Google roared 3% higher on Wednesday driving year to date gains to around 30%. Meanwhile shares of Apple dropped 3% on Wednesday sending year to date losses to approximately 20%.

Why is the price action in these two tech titans so incredibly divergent?


Google has captured the imaginations of investors; The Street seems to love the Googleguys.

"Hardly a day goes by where we don't have some analyst making a bold call about whereGoogle's headed. Today Morgan Stanley upped it's price target to $996 citing the potential of YouTube among other catalysts," Cramer said.

In addition, Google's core search business remains solid and the promise of YouTube gives the company strong growth potential. "Morgan Stanley makes Youtube sound like it is the next ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, and Time Warner combined," noted Cramer.

Also, Google's Android operating system has leaped past Apple's software to become the most popular smartphone software, used on more than 70 percent of devices, according to industry research firm Gartner.

"There's also a ton of innovation," said Cramer, "everything from Google Glasses, to new Google maps. Some of these are going to pan out, and maybe pan out big, which means the earnings estimates for Google could be too low, and that its earnings and revenues might be accelerating."

All told, there are plenty of reasons to buy.

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Apple has largely become the equivalent of a student that showed great promise who drops out of school.

"Wall Street's been pretty silent about Apple ever since that widely panned quarter when so many analysts cut their price targets," Cramer said.

Looking at the technicals, Apple fell below its 50-day moving average, a development that technical traders consider bearish. And in the quest for exciting new products, it seems Apples comes up short.

Turning attention to earnings, the trend is anything but positive. "Apple keeps missing estimates, falling short of them. It's been a four quarter phenomenon and now the Street presumes that Apple's going to miss this quarter, too because, unlike Google, there are no new initiatives that can add cause estimates. In fact, there's a growing consensus that unlike Google, which might grow earnings at 18% next year, Apple 's earnings might be lower in 2014."

All told, there are plenty of reasons to sell.

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Nonetheless, sentiment surrounding a stock can change on a dime. A sharp sell-off can present opportunity at any given time. "Any development that suggests Apple can beat the earnings estimates could drive shares higher," Cramer said.

Conversely, a sharp advance can be an opportunity to sell short. "Anything that suggests that Google may stumble could bring the advance to a screeching halt," Cramer added.

Right now, however, neither seems likely to Cramer.

"Call it the spring of hope for owners of Google and the winter of despair for owners of Apple," Cramer said. But no matter how you tell it, "In the business of stocks, this story appears to be a classic."

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