Apple Inc. (AAPL) Coverage Initiated By Citigoup With Buy

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is scheduled to release its next earnings report next week. Citigroup analysts set a new price target of $110 per share on the company and initiated coverage with a Buy rating ahead of that report. They’re positive on Apple, as are several others, like MarketWatch contributor Jeff Reeves.

iPhone 6 unveiling expected in early September

Analyst Jim Suva of Citigroup doesn’t expect next week’s report to move the needle on the company’s stock much. His $110 per share price target reflects a 15% upside to Tuesday’s closing price. Instead of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s earnings report, he thinks the iPhone 6 unveiling will be the big catalyst coming up for the company’s stock.

He expects Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) to show off the iPhone 6 between Sept. 5 and 15. He thinks consensus estimates are underestimating demand for the handset. It’s expected to not only feature a bigger screen but also a more than 20% improvement in battery life and possible contract terms with carriers that “encourage upgrades.”

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Why Apple shares may move higher

MarketWatch contributor Jeff Reeves offers nine reasons he thinks Apple stock will go higher, and none of them have to do with the iPhone 6. First, he notes that the company has gained back its momentum. The stock has climbed 30% in just three months, climbing beyond its previous 50-day moving average. Over the last year, the stock is up 60% as the negativity melts away.

Second, he thinks Apple will be able to better capitalize on the enterprise opportunity through its newly announced partnership with International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM). Third, he sees emerging markets as being a key area for Apple to grow, especially in China where Apple products remain popular in spite of their high price tag.

Fourth, he notes that while Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) (NASDAQ:GOOG) may have a stranglehold on the market in terms of share, Apple enjoys profits just from its operating system. The company reported $10 billion in App Store sales last year, compared to Google Play’s approximately $1.3 billion. Apple also won in mobile shopping during the Christmas shopping season.

Fifth, of course Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) remains the king of cash, raking in $53.6 billion in operating cash flow in 2013. The company’s balance sheet is flush with cash, and it makes so much money in a month that the balance rises steadily. Sixth, he sees the acquisition of Beats Electronics as being a positive, although he doesn’t really say why other than that Apple is no longer afraid to buy other companies.

Seventh, he notes that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has continued its share buyback plan and should provide an update in next week’s report. Eighth, he notes that the company increased its dividend and may continue to do so because it’s got plenty of cash. And finally, he notes that investors have begun to flee risky momentum stocks and pile back into higher quality stocks like Apple, which has real profits and is seen as less risky.