The Reason To Fear Apple Earnings (AAPL, RIMM, MSFT, GOOG)

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Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) is still up huge in 2012, but its stock is battered and bruised ahead of Tuesday’s earnings report.  Shares have opened down again on Monday and they are now fighting between being positive and negative this Monday.  If Apple closes in the red again today then Apple would only have closed with a gain in one day of the last ten trading sessions.

Apple is fighting competition from Samsung and Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG), but it has killed Research in Motion Ltd. (NASDAQ: RIMM) and brands like Nokia Corporation (NYSE: NOK) are only popular in nations where cheap phones dominate and where smartphones are not the norm.

A report from BMO Capital sounds OK on the surface because it is a reiteration of a “Outperform” rating with a $675.00 price target.  Where some may be taking some caution is that the report discusses flat sales or even slightly negative sales of the iPhones in this current quarter and next quarter which might consolidate stock ahead.

Today’s report is on the heels of firm after firm raising their respective price targets and someone even has a $1,001 target now.  Still, Apple’s chart is not even in the strongest technology stock charts in the S&P 500 despite its shares being up 40% so far still in 2012.  At $571.00 the year-high (and all-time high) is $644.00.

The biggest concern may be simply Apple’s stock chart.  What Apple investors may care about most is the 50-day moving average at $570.77.  This will matter as it is right at the current price.  Some technicians will call for a bounce and others will say that the line matters.  Still, shares are getting to large oversold readings even if the shares seem to be trying to find support.  Is a chart enough to scare away investors?  Probably not.  We often wonder just how much alchemy is in technical analysis, but we are also of the mind that those who ignore it entirely may wish they hadn’t.

The big story may remain around the iPad, but what we will be paying close attention to is again how much the iPad is stealing up from MacBook and Mac sales.  Apple is also expected to have leapfrogged the $100 billion in cash and cash equivalents mark.

Thomson Reuters has estimates of $10.00 EPS on sales of $36.6 billion.  That translates to an earnings gain of more than 50% and sales gains of almost 48.5%.  Thomson Reuters also has a consensus analyst price target that is now almost $679.00 for a year out.

A more detailed preview will be offered ahead of earnings on Tuesday.  Just don’t put this one on the back-burner for too long without a review because Apple is in a spot where it could move much lower or much higher depending upon earnings and guidance.