Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has increased its Black Friday discounts at the beginning of what is expected to be a promotional-heavy season with relatively low margins. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is offering gifts cards instead of cash discounts this year, but assuming you use the gift card it translates as a higher percentage discount than what was on offer before. Of course, this also has the advantage of bringing people back later in the season.

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Apple Stock

Apple product discounts

This year’s discounts average about 15%, according to Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian J. White, as opposed to the 9%-10% discounts in 2012. All iPad Air models were discounted $75, iPad 2 models were reduced $50, and the Mac family was discounted by $150. The iPad mini with Retina display is one of the few high profile items that didn’t go on sale, but that may have been due to concerns about supply constraints.

Of course there is a lot of pressure on retailers to offer good deals on Black Friday, but Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has never marketed itself as a budget brand, and it isn’t in direct competition with that many other smartphone or computer manufacturers. Increasing the size of the discount, even if they put them in the form of a gift card, demonstrates the amount of pressure retailers are under through the end of the year.

Apple gets a Buy rating

“Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is best positioned in the tech world to benefit from this holiday season, starting with Black Friday,” writes White. He rates Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) a Buy with a price target of $777 compared to a current stock price of $545.96. His estimate is based on a 14x multiple of 2014 EPS estimates plus Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s net cash of $142.77 per share. He also points out that the 14x multiple is in line with the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) as a whole but still well below Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s historical average, which is nearly 19x.

White isn’t alone in his assessment, as Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s stock price hit an all-year high today, passing the $550 mark. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) hit $549 back in January, but hasn’t climbed as high since. Analysts in general have been warming to the company, and they expect to see strong sales numbers coming out in January.