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Apple Inc.’s (AAPL) on-again-off-again development of a huge data center in Ireland, a project that began in 2015 and was scrapped in 2018, is set to be on again … sort of.
A bit of history: Apple first announced the $1.9 billion plan in early 2015. It was set to be one of the largest data centers in the world, three times bigger than Apple’s North Carolina facility. Court challenges followed, although Apple prevailed on many. But in 2019, the tech giant put the land up for sale, all but abandoning the project.
However, things took a turn in July 2021. Apple discreetly filed an extension on its planning permission. Unsurprisingly, more legal challenges followed covering several issues. Currently, the case is pending and set to be examined again in October.
- Apple’s Irish data center optically has a high price tag.
- However, with Apple’s growth, it’s easy to see the positives.
- A long-term bullish narrative is still there for Apple stock.
Now why would Apple go through all this trouble and expense to build a data center in Ireland? The tech giant is interested in growing its Services business abroad, which includes software, digital content, iTunes, licensing, Apple Pay, and AppleCare.
Investors surely appreciate the growth-oriented strategy. Still, they may worry about the data center’s price tag. However, $2 billion is a drop in the bucket to enable strong platform growth abroad, especially for a firm flush with almost $62 billion in cash on hand.
In the third quarter of this fiscal year, Apple Services revenue was $17.49 billion (21.47% of total revenue). This line of business trails only the iPhone as the company’s largest moneymaker. Additionally, nearly two-thirds of Apple’s revenue comes from non-U.S. markets. But the company clearly believes that there’s room to grow or else it wouldn’t bother with the Irish data center situation.
And why doubt that? Apple’s Services revenue has seen consistent growth over the past few years. In fact, Services have brought in $10 billion or more each quarter since 2018. That means good things for the stock.
Of course, Big Money knows all about Apple’s growth and its future prospects. The Big Money has been buying up Apple stock for years, fueling a nearly 441% rise since 2017.
I follow Big Money activity and trends for a living. Institutional investors gravitate to quality time and time again. And when it comes to Apple, Big Money is a repeat customer. To see what I mean, look at the chart below. Each of those points on the chart were when my MAPsignals process ranked Apple shares with Big Money buying alongside stellar fundamentals for the company.
So, despite a seemingly big price tag and ongoing legal hurdles, Apple still believes in growing its Services business abroad. Big Money sees this strategy as a strong long-term growth engine. Given the overall track record, I see little reason to doubt the thesis.
The Bottom Line
Apple is experiencing some bad luck in Ireland with its planned $2 billion data center, but global growth is still a priority. The project’s price tag and legal issues pale in comparison to the possibility of further worldwide expansion. From my view, the long-term positive narrative for Apple investors is still intact.
Disclosure: The author holds no position in AAPL at the time of publication.