How can they call Apple the ‘darling of Wall Street’?

The stock is up 330% since its 2008 low, but that's really nothing to write home about

In an article posted Friday on Seeking Alpha, Fortune.com contributor Andy Zaky takes aim at a phrase that has attached itself to Apple (aapl) recently: "the darling of Wall Street." (Google it; you'll be surprised how often it pops up in the financial press.)

Apple is a darling, the thinking goes, because the stock has risen more than 330% from $80.49, the low it hit on Nov. 20, 2008, in the middle of the subprime mortgage crisis.

But as Zaky points out, Apple had no business trading for $80 a share in a quarter in which its earnings grew 155%. Moreover, that breakneck growth has hardly slowed. Over the past five quarters, Apple's EPS grew 86.0%, 74.6%, 67.5%, 75.2% and 92.2%, respectively.

Yet the stock has been going nowhere since October. It closed at $346.57 Thursday, up only 8.6% in seven months. The NASDAQ-100 (qqq), by contrast, has rallied 18.22% over the same time period.  Even the broader S&P 500 (spy) has outperformed Apple, posting 16.2% gains since October.

Apple's price to earnings ratio -- the value of the stock as measured by Wall Street -- has actually been shrinking, as Zaky's chart shows. Is that how the Street rewards its "darling"?

" What's next?" he asks. "A janitor living in Manhattan is called rich because he received a 5% pay raise increasing his salary to $20,000 a year?"

<!-- more -->

"What it should always comes down to is valuation," Zaky writes.

"Yet ... we see Google (goog) report 17% earnings growth and trade a 20 P/E ratio and then watch Apple report 92% earnings growth and trade at a 16 P/E ratio...  Amazon (amzn) misses earnings expectation for the third time in five quarters, grows at a far lower growth rate than Apple on both the top and bottom line and trades at a 90 P/E ratio.  Netflix (nflx) also misses expectations, grows at a far lower growth rate than Apple on both the top and bottom line and trades at a 70.58 P/E ratio."

To give a better sense of how Apple -- the company, not the stock -- is growing, Zaky offers several charts, which with his permission we've reproduced below:

You Zaky's article is entitled "Apple's P/E Ratio Falls to Lowest Level Since Financial Crisis Despite 92% Earnings Growth" and is available here.

All products and services featured are based solely on editorial selection. FORTUNE may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website.

Quotes delayed at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Interactive Data. ETF and Mutual Fund data provided by Morningstar, Inc. Dow Jones Terms & Conditions: http://www.djindexes.com/mdsidx/html/tandc/indexestandcs.html. S&P Index data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. Powered and implemented by Interactive Data Managed Solutions