Investors might be worried about Apple Inc. , but analysts are more upbeat ever. Apple's shares fell as much as 5.7 per cent on Tuesday morning - the biggest decline since May, according to Bloomberg News - a day after it reported quarterly earnings of $4.64 (U.S.) a share, blowing past expectations for earnings of $4.10.
What's the worry? For one, Apple forecast earnings of $4.80 a share for the current, which is below expectations. As well, International Business Machines Corp. reported a drop in new contracts, which has sent investors scurrying from technology stocks in general. IPad sales were a touch disappointing. And if you need a third reason, Apple's gross margin is declining - to an estimated 36 per cent in the current quarter, down from 36.7 per cent in the previous quarter and 41.8 per cent last year.
For a stock that had been up more than 50 per cent this year, touching a record high on Monday, little things can shake investor enthusiasm. But it appears that the resolve among analysts is far steadier. A large number of them raised their target prices on the stock after the company released its quarterly results.
RBC raised its target price to $365 from $350. Citi raised its target to $390 from $350. Scotia moved to $360 from $340. Piper Jaffray moved to $429 from $390. And Canaccord Genuity raised its target to $421 from $366.
"While the iPad was below our expectations, we believe the iPad is in the early stages of a very strong multi-year product cycle for several reasons," said Canaccord analysts in a note.
First, the analysts don't expect competitive tablet products until well after the 2010 holiday selling season. Second, Apple enjoys a lot of positive momentum with applications for the iPad. Third, the iPad will get a boost from increasing distribution from the likes of AT&T and Verizon. And fourth, the iPad is gaining traction with customers in business and education sectors, which should drive sales.