Time to invest in Apple?

Customers line up to enter the Apple Store where a giant logo is displayed in the southern German city of Munich on Sept. 21, 2012, as the iPhone 5 goes on sale. CHRISTOF STACHE/Getty Images

(MoneyWatch) Last fall, Apple's (AAPL) admirers were considering whether it would become the first trillion dollar company. Flash forward to today, when the company's stock hit a 52-week low on Friday and was down again this morning.

Investors are worried about whether the iPhone 5 is a relative bust. They're concerned about lower Mac sales and stressing over whether Apple will ever regain its innovation mojo. But while there are some legitimate concerns about Apple, the pessimism looks overdone.

One big concern among investors is that Apple won't be able to continue protecting its share of the smartphone market, particularly given advances by Samsung and other competitors. The iPhone, after all, has been the major driver of Apple's enormous profits in recent years.

As Henry Blodgett points out at Business Insider, a number of other factors also causing Apple shares to plummet, including:

- The possibility that Apple's earnings are likely to shrink year-over-year this quarter
- Indications that iPhone sales are slowing faster than expected
- The release of competing products in virtually all of Apple's product lines, undermining sales
- Declining profit margins
- A maturing smartphone market that puts an increasing emphasis on price

But for investors who focus more on financial performance than expectations of future growth, Wall Street's reaction may have put Apple stock at a relative bargain price. As Fortune's Philip Elmer-DeWitt and some of his readers calculated, the only time Apple's price-to-earnings ratio fell below the current 6.45 level was on December 18, 2000.

For those who can stop thinking of Apple as a company that should have huge growth every quarter and more as a business that excels in consumer electronics, it might be time to consider investing. Plus, it does seem a tad premature to assume that the company will never come out with another new good idea. It's not as though Steve Jobs invented all those breakthrough products himself.

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    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.

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