Apple’s Stock Outperforms Prior To iPhone 5S Launch

Shares of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) outperformed prior to the launching of its new products: the iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C, and new iPad devices, according to analysts at Bernstein Research.

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Apple stocks outperform

Bernstein analysts Toni Sacconaghi, Jr., Jonathan Cofsky, and Eric Garfunkel noted that the stock of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) historically outperformed two months and one month before the announcement of its new products by 970 bp and 450 bp, respectively.

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According to Sacconaghi and his fellow analysts, shares of the iPhone and iPad maker already “eclipsed the historical average outperformance in advance of the iPhone 5S announcement.”

The analysts observed that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) already traded strongly, and significantly exceeded its average level at 1730 bp on a two month basis compared with an average of 970 bp.  Its 1130 bp on a monthly basis outperformed the 450 bp average.

Sacconaghi and his fellow analysts emphasized that the shares’ outperformance was relatively tepid historically during the two week period surrounding its product launch date, and the stock underperformed within the two months period after its major product announcement.

Icahn triggered the recent stock rise

The analysts said that the recent upward movement of the stock (_700 bp) was driven in part by  Carl Icahn’s announcement regarding his large stake in Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). According to them, the company still underperformed by ~2,300 bp year-to date.

In addition, Sacconaghi and his fellow analysts stressed that Apple’s valuation remains very attractive based on its history, tech space, and overall market. Furthermore, the analysts expect the company to roll out its new products this fall, and a deal with China Mobile Ltd (ADR) (NYSE:CHL) is becoming increasingly possible.

Moreover, the analysts believe that a potential downward EPS revision is low. According to them, the current EPS estimates for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) for the fourth quarter and fiscal 2014 are at a reasonable level given the fact that the EPS estimate for fiscal 2013 already dropped by ~25% .

Apple’s share buyback

Furthermore, the analysts also noted that several prominent investors continue to demand a higher cash return. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) approved a $60 billion shares buyback.

Sacconaghi and his fellow analysts recommended an Outperform rating for shares of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) with a price target of $600.