Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares are heading back up to the heights they were at toward the beginning of this year, and now many analyst price targets are underwater. The company releases its next earnings report after closing bell on Monday, and investors are anticipating good iPhone sales numbers from a record launch this year.
Apple surpasses analyst expectations
Philip Elmer-DeWitt of Fortune tracks 48 analysts who are covering Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). He notes that many of them are just having trouble keeping up with how quickly the company’s shares are rising. For example, Merrill Lynch analyst Scott Craig increased his price target from $520 to 530 per share earlier this week, but just a couple of days later, it passed his new price target. According to Elmer-DeWitt, 18 of the 48 analysts he tracks are underwater with their price targets. That’s more than a third of them.
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Many of the analysts whose price targets for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) are underwater actually have Outperform or Buy ratings on the stock, suggesting that they’re going to have to play some catch up here if they really think the company’s stock is going to rise over the next 12 months. If they don’t raise their price targets, then they’re probably going to have to downgrade the stock’s rating. So we could be in for a rash of analyst price target and rating revisions, although we might not see most of them until after Monday’s earnings report. Many of these analysts could simply be waiting to see what happens with that report.
Icahn pushes for more buybacks
Meanwhile activist investor continues to push for his way. He wants Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) to buy back $150 billion worth of its shares as soon as possible. While he’s right that this buying opportunity probably won’t last forever, the recent rally of Apple shares calls into question whether the company really needs to do it. On the one hand, his tweets have added billions to Apple’s market capitalization as investors responded to his involvement. But on the other hand, good news about iPhone sales is also providing a catalyst for Apple shares.
Nonetheless, Icahn thinks he’s right, as always, and he’s threatened Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) with a proxy fight if he doesn’t get his way. Billionaires can be so cranky when they don’t get their way, can’t they?