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Apple, Corning, Starbucks: Thinking Like Start-Ups

There are start-up companies, and then there are longtime corporate giants that still think like start-up companies.

Apple iPad
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Apple iPad

Apple, Corning and Starbucks are three that have managed to continue innovating, increase sales and please shareholders, two analysts told CNBC Friday.

Apple, formed in the mid-1970s, "still looks very strong for their age," said Brent Wilsey, Wilsey Asset Management, thanks to the iPad and iPhone. "Yes, their stock is over $300 a share but look at their sales," up 63 percent while earnings are up 74 percent. "The company is still middle-aged at best."

Josh Brown, vice president of investments at Fusion Analytics, said the venerable Corning has moved beyond fiber-optics and flat-screen televisions.

"In a lot of ways it gets painted with the industrial brush, but it’s really a tech company," he said. "It has a $32 billion market cap, so it takes a lot to move the stock. But they‘re doing things in life sciences right now, they’re doing things in environmental that not a lot of people are aware of."

Brown also praised Starbucks for continuing to innovate, such as its introduction of instant coffee. The stock is "not cheap but there is nothing not to like about the company," he said, especially with founder Howard Schultz back running the company.

But Wilsey thinks Starbucks, with stores seemingly on every block, is showing its age.

"It needs a shot of its own caffeine to keep this company going," he said. "Sales are up 10.7 percent, you’ve got to give them that, but the stock trades at 26 times earnings, even the forward P/E is 20 times earnings. It looks like it's slowing down. There's not much new going on."