Taking Stock: For those of you with Apple shares: sell, sell, sell

Dear Mr. Berko: In early 2004, I bought 900 shares of Apple Computer at $22. I bought it with my own money, and I had a good feeling about the investment, because a trusted friend who worked at Apple was certain the stock would at least triple.

I now have 1,800 shares, because it split a year later. God only knows why I've never sold the stock, which is now almost $400 a share, or nearly $750,000 in total. Not bad for a 52-year-old Army nurse and her career-Army husband.

Now that Steve Jobs has left, what do you think I should do with my Apple shares? If we sell all or some of our shares, a friend suggested that we use TIAA-CREF as a source to help us reinvest this money. We have over $200,000 in two IRAs, a good government pension, and $61,000 in savings. We have no debts, and our two children are career Army, like us.

Your advice would be greatly appreciated. Please tell us what you think.

SP, Dunedin, Fla.

Dear SP: Steve Jobs - easily one of the most revered, respected, acclaimed and skilled chief executives in our solar system -- just left Apple (AAPL-$394). This year, AAPL will post $105 billion in revenues, earn $22 billion with net profit margins of 22% and likely maintain its long-term debt of zero.

Steve founded this company in 1976, and since then, AAPL has become the world's most successful maker and retailer of computers and peripheral products. Steve is the E-equals-MC-squared of Apple Computer and the tech industry. The company's share price, revenue growth, earnings growth, product line and reputation continue to glow brightly.

But I think AAPL's glow is going to dim.

Look at what happened to the values of GE, Microsoft, Chrysler, and the United States ten years later -- after Welch, Gates, Iacocca and Truman left office. Today, at $384 a share, your APPL stock is worth just under $700,000.

I think you should sell all 1,800 shares quick as a bunny, and don't look back.

Sell your shares, because the 15 percent capital gains tax rate ends in 2012, and some observers believe Congress will fiddle with a higher capital gains tax in 2013, adding a sur-tax on capital gains that exceed a base amount.

Sell your shares, because I don't think AAPL has much sweet juice remaining in its share price this year or next. I think AAPL's revenues and earnings will increase at a decreasing rate. Technological knowledge doubles every two years, and there are some garage geniuses who will surely design a superior mousetrap.

Sell your shares, because I think the economy and the stock market will be in the doldrums in the next few years, and demand for AAPL products will increase at a decreasing rate.

Sell your shares, because AAPL represents 75 percent of your assets, and that's a lot of eggs in one basket. At your age and stage, you need stability and certainty for your future, not the possibility of potential growth for your retirement years. It's time to put that money to work earning dependable, spendable income to make your retirement years a joy.

I can give you other reasons to sell AAPL, but I think you're getting the message. And when you sell your shares, put the proceeds in a money market account. You'll have plenty of cash, and cash gives most of us time to think.

Then, I want you to think about employing a knowledgeable, experienced and wise money manager -- a professional who is easy to talk to, who communicates clearly, who cares and who can help you guys plan your future. This professional should also be knowledgeable about real estate, insurance, taxes, mortgages, personal finance and estate planning.

While this may seem like a tall order, be mindful that your future, especially in these turbulent times, is also a tall responsibility. And for the love of Harry and Mary, do not employ TIAA-CREF. It seems, from many letters I've received, that TIAA-CREF's advisors lack the professional training and qualifications to give you the shrewd, experienced advice you need for the rest and best of your life.

Please address your financial to Malcolm Berko, P.O. Box 8303, Largo, FL 33775 or e-mail him at mjberko@yahoo.com. To find out more about Malcolm Berko and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 CREATORS.COM

Published: Thu, Oct 6, 2011