Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares surged over $500 on Wednesday, spurred on by Carl Icahn’s investment and also anticipation ahead of the next iPhone unveiling, which is expected to be less than a month away now. The stock dipped below $500 briefly before climbing back above it mid-day, but will it remain above $500?
Of course there are a few wild cards in the answer to that question, including not only Icahn and his sudden interest in Apple but also the company’s upcoming products.
Will Apple do as Icahn says?
Analysts are split on whether Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) management will bow to Icahn’s wishes. Some say the company could indeed double its share buyback program, while others question whether the company really needs to do so. RBC Capital analyst Amit Daryanani actually raised his price target for Apple to $525 per share, based on his expectation that the company could double its $60 billion share buyback plan.
UBS analysts Steven Milunovich and Peter Christiansen, on the other hand, think it’s unlikely that Apple will buyback more shares more quickly because it already buys back about 5 percent of its shares annually and is offering a 2.5 percent dividend yield. They even go so far as to question whether Icahn is really gunning for Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook. It wouldn’t be the first time Icahn thought he could find a better CEO than the ones who were in place at the companies he has targeted in the past.
“There doesn’t appear to be much to agitate for aside from a larger buyback unless Icahn thinks Cook isn’t doing a good job,” the analysts muse.
Products to replace Icahn as the center of attention
Icahn has been pretty quiet so far on his plans for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), other than to offer additional tidbits about how he thinks the company should buy back more shares. Of course whenever Icahn is involved, the quiet never lasts, but for now at least, investors and analysts will focus their attention on the upcoming products.
It’s expected that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) will unveil the iPhone 5S and the iPhone 5C on Sept. 10 and then new iPads later this fall. UBS analysts also believe the company will unveil new product categories next year. They note that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s “stock chart appears to be at an important technical juncture.” This week the company moved over its 200 day moving average for the first time since November. They said also that the company is close to overbought territory and “hasn’t firmly established the uptrend yet.”
The UBS analysts maintained their Buy rating and $500 price target for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares, saying that they are “attracted by the improving psychology and coming products.”