Apple Gets a Boost from RBC, BHP Billiton’s Bribery Scandal Expands, and 3 More Hot Stocks

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL): RBC analyst Amit Daryanani has raised his price target on Apple to $525 from $475, and is apparently on board with Carl Icahn’s call for an expanded stock buyback. Daryanani believes that raising another $55 billion in debt for buybacks could boost 2014′s earnings per share by $4, and that increasing leverage to a large-cap norm of 1.8 times would allow Apple to repurchase 18 percent of its float.

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BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP): BHP has reported that the Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Justice are expanding an investigation into alleged violations of anti-corruption laws, including the miner’s sponsorship of the 2008 Summer Olympics in China. The probe could potentially lead to unspecified enforcement actions, while the company adds that an internal investigation launched several years ago turned up evidence signaling possible bribery of foreign government officials.

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Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDSA): Shell is sure that its proposed Kitimat LNG project in British Columbia will meet cost expectations, though many new liquefied natural gas projects have seen their capital needs swell far beyond initial cost projections around the world. However, Shell has Korea Gas, Mitsubishi, and PetroChina (NYSE:PTR) behind it, and, when combined, implies that the coalition will get supply deals done. The group is aiming to build an export terminal and ship 24 million metric tons of natural gas per year.

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BP (NYSE:BP): The negotiator of last year’s settlement on behalf of more than 100,000 compensation claimants has told Reuters that BP’s “hard-line legal tactics aimed at capping the financial blowout from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil disaster will backfire.” The company has “made a vast strategic error by fighting and shifting this whole battle to an attack on the people of the Gulf,” Joe Rice said. “Any goodwill they built on trying to do the right thing, they have destroyed.”

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Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE:XOM): An Exxon vice president said that it’s “too early to know the fate of the 1940s-era Pegasus pipeline that leaked oil” into the small Arkansas town of Mayflower earlier this year, but has floated the possibility that it could be taken out of service. The company found “anomalies” but found no trouble in the section of pipe that ruptured or during other tests in February during inspections, and maintains that the pipeline will not resume service until the company and federal government affirm that it’s safe to do so.

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