Apple Rolls on as Dow’s Top-Performing Stock

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Shares of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) declined about 1.7% last week, but that was not enough for the tech giant to drop out of its spot as the best-performing Dow Jones industrial average stock for the year to date. Since the beginning of 2018, Apple stock as added 30.8%, and the company’s market cap remains above the $1 trillion mark.

The second-best performer among the Dow equities so far this year is Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE), which is up 28.4%. That is followed by Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT), up 26.5%, Visa Inc. (NYSE: V), up 25.6%, and Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK), up 23.8%. Of the 30 Dow stocks, 16 have managed to post a gain to date in 2018.

The blue-chip index dropped 38.28 points last week to close at 25,964.82, down about 0.2% compared to the previous Friday’s close. For the third quarter to date, the Dow is up 7.2%, better than the S&P 500 (up 5.8%) and the Nasdaq Composite (up 5.3%). For the year to date, the index is up 4.4%, trailing both the S&P 500 (up 6.5%) and the Nasdaq Composite (up 12.8%).

Tech stocks lost 2.8% of their value last week, barely outperforming the energy sector, which dropped just over 3%. For the year to date, consumer discretionary stocks have added 16.9% and tech stocks have added 16.5%.

The company warned that new tariffs on imports from China could raise prices on Apple Watch, AirPods and Apple Pencil. In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Apple listed these and other items that would be affected by the tariffs, noting that “the U.S. will be hardest hit, and that will result in lower U.S. growth and competitiveness and higher prices for U.S. consumers.”

That may well turn out to be true, but there’s little evidence that price is a major factor in consumer purchase decisions for Apple products. The company’s market power is simply too strong to be much affected by a little thing like Trump’s tariffs.

But the big news this past week was next week’s Wednesday launch of new iPhone models and other new products. Some of the usual suspense has been diluted following a leaked photo showing two of the new iPhones.

Apple shares closed Friday at $221.30, in a 52-week range of $149.16 to $229.67, a new all-time high posted Wednesday. The consensus price target is $222.42, and Apple’s forward price-to-earnings ratio is 16.31. Its market cap is now $1.069 trillion, down by $30 billion from the prior week. Fellow Dow component Travelers has a market cap of $35.1 billion.

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