Buy on Apple's dip ahead of earnings
The tech giant, which reports Thursday, has demonstrated weakness in front of blowout earnings before.
Wall Street expects strong fourth-quarter earnings growth from Apple (AAPL), relative to last year, after the market closes Thursday.
The consensus is for $8.85 a share, a gain of $1.80 from $7.05 during the corresponding quarter last year. Analysts are estimating as low as $8 per share and up to $10.05 per share. Even at the very low end, we are staring into the face of an increase of more than 10%.
Forty-nine out of 55 analysts rate Apple a "buy" or "strong buy." The company has four "holds," and two recommend "selling."
Twenty-three out of 55 analysts rate Apple a "strong buy," up from 22 analysts a month ago. Analysts overall have called this one correctly. In the past 12 months, the shares have advanced. The one-year return is 54%. The average analyst current target price for Apple is $778.32.
From a technical perspective, the chart on Apple looks interesting. The 200-day moving average is climbing, but the price broke below the 60- and 90-day moving averages in the past couple of weeks.
At the weekly and monthly level, where long-term investors should be focused anyway, the picture is in stark contrast to the daily chart. Both the weekly and monthly charts show strong bullish trends, with the price near support levels. Even this week's dip fits in well with the longer-term charts.
The company currently pays $10.60 per share in yearly dividends for a yield of 1.6%. Not what I would refer to as a high yielder by a long shot, but with a payout ratio of less than 25%, Apple has miles of room to increase the amount if the board wills it.
After the stock fell 6.5%, investors could be forgiven for scratching their heads and wondering how much more they need to endure. One strategic solution, especially attractive in front of earnings, is writing calls against some shares. Premiums are high as volatility (time premium) increases in front of the earnings release.
Obviously, I am bullish on Apple, but I haven't always been, and I am not an iFanatic with Apple's products (I own a Samsung S3). I rate Apple positively simply on the numbers, and the numbers are attractive.
The last reported short interest is paltry and without reason to consider it a meaningful influence at only 1.6% of the average trading float.
Google's (GOOG) miss shook the market, and shortages in availability of the iPhone 5 have many questioning if Apple can hit its numbers or not. What is missed in this conversation is it doesn't matter what the numbers are for the last quarter (within reason), because everyone with a finger on the "buy" and "sell" buttons during the earnings call will have their full attention on what to anticipate beyond 2012.
Questions related to supply and availability of the iPhone 5 are plaguing shares as if extreme customer demand for your high-margin product is a bad thing. People used to buy iPhones that couldn't make a phone call, and the status of the iPhone hasn't lost its luster. Count on Apple selling every last iStatus symbol it can produce until it is ready to release the next in the series.
I am leaning towards the upper end of the estimates and believe Apple blows the sliding doors off the minivan. I believe Apple will deliver above the mean estimate. More important, I believe Apple will rally after the earnings are out as investors put risk back on.
Apple has been the "buy on dips" stock for several years, with good reason. The current dip will once again prove that those sitting on the sidelines should have jumped on board for the next $100 in gains.
52-Week Range: $363.32 to $705.07
Book Value: $119.23
Price To Book: 5.3
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