Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) keeps getting weaker and weaker ahead of earnings. Maybe this week is finally the charm. On Monday morning we have seen two analyst upgrades from boutique firms, and we also have seen some cautious optimism elsewhere.
The two analyst upgrades on Apple are from boutique firms, and we would make note that perhaps the analysts there are trying to make a name for themselves ahead of earnings this week. A firm called Avondale upgraded Apple to Market Outperform from Market Perform with what we have seen as a $600 implied price target, although we have not yet seen the details from this call. BGC Partners also raised its rating to Buy from Hold. The firm said that the share price weakness is now already pricing in slower demand from iPhone and iPads.
The cautious call is still somewhat positive. Stern Agee maintained its Buy rating, but the firm lowered its price target as it anticipates a slight earnings miss. In the call, the firm lowered its price target to $610 from $630m based upon a nine-times earnings multiple for 2014 net of that $145 in cash per share.
Shaw Wu of Stern Agee said:
We continue to believe AAPL will likely hit the lower-end of its guidance meaning consensus estimates may still be a little high. However, we believe expectations for the June quarter have come down adequately to reflect an inventory drawdown and pause ahead of 2H refreshes. The good news is that data points appear to be hitting a bottom.
Apple shares are up 0.4% at $392.01 so far in premarket trading Monday morning, against a 52-week trading range of $385.10 to $705.07.
Despite how Apple has underperformed in 2013 and Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) has outperformed, our readers still maintained at the start of earnings season in a poll that Apple would outperform Microsoft, based on an earnings season reaction, by a margin of 64.54% to 35.46%.