The 15 Biggest Stories Apple Investors Must Know from the Week

Monday

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) gained 2.26 percent to close at $449.83 on Monday, pulling the Nasdaq along with it. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 4.59 points, or 0.15 percent, at 3,154.30. Apple also regained its title as the largest U.S. company by market capitalization as Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) fell 0.7 percent to $91.11 and slipped back to second place.

Another Stock Cut

Apple was bumped from its Outperform rating to Neutral by analysts at Baird Equity Research, who also cut down the iPhone maker’s price target to $465 from $570. According to the firm, high consensus estimates, which were unreasonably high, posed the maximum danger for the stock. “We are increasingly wary of several near-term risks, particularly consensus estimates that we believe remain frustratingly too high,” Baird’s William Power wrote. “With estimates likely to fall further and gross margin concerns likely to linger, we believe the shares could drop further, despite the sharp sell-off and valuation.”

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According to the analyst, while he remained positive on Apple’s “leading product portfolio, unmatched ecosystem, and potential new products,” he was looking for a “more significant reboot of estimates” to become aggressive on the stock again…(Read more)

Duopoly Goes Strong

The rivalry between Apple’s iOS and Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android is no secret, but just how dominant are the two operating systems in the global smartphone setup? According to a new survey, the two together now account for a record 92 percent of all smartphone shipments. Together, the Apple and Google software programs were on almost 200 million smartphones shipped around the world last quarter. But there is also a clear winner between the two leaders. According to Strategy Analytics data, Android took the lead with 152.1 million shipments, almost double the 80.6 million shipped in the fourth quarter in 2011. Its market share grew to 70 percent from 51 percent. The iPhone maker, meanwhile, shipped 47.8 million smartphones for a 22 percent market share, down slightly from 24 percent in the year-ago quarter… (Read more)

Angry Investors to Sue?

Several analysts have suggested over the past few days that Apple announce an increase in its dividend in order to create a catalyst for the stock. According to Gamco Investors’ Lawrence Haverty, the company should consider the suggestion a warning. This is because its decision to refrain from returning more cash to shareholders could leave Apple’s board vulnerable to investor lawsuits, Haverty told Bloomberg Radio on Monday. “Someone is going to sue them for excessive accumulation of cash,” Haverty said, though he did not discuss having any knowledge of a potential lawsuit. Gamco holds Apple shares… (Read more)

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Tuesday

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) rose 1.88 percent on Tuesday to $458.27 after announcing the launch of a brand new iPad. Here are the top stories that affected the stock:

Apple’s Latest iPad

Apple quietly added a new tablet to its lineup on Tuesday, announcing the launch of a 128GB version of the fourth-generation iPad. The latest unit, which doubles the storage capacity of the largest iPad model currently in the market, will be available in both Wi-Fi-only and cellular capabilities. It goes on sale on February 5. The fourth generation of Apple’s full-sized, or 9.7-inch, iPad lineup now has four different capacities, starting at 16GB for the entry-level model. The iPad mini still offers 64GB as the maximum capacity. The new model has all the features of its other fourth-generation cousins, including a 9.7-inch Retina display, FaceTime HD camera, and an A6X processor. The high price tags of $799 for the WiFi-only version and $929 for the one with added cellular functionality will definitely relieve some worries about the company’s falling gross margins… (Read more)

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Cramer Isn’t Impressed

Investment specialist Jim Cramer said on CNBC that the newly launched iPad was neither a very coveted product nor likely to provide Apple’s stock the momentum it needed right now. “I’m sure this is a good product, but I know I don’t need one,” he said. “I think it’s great they have a new product. GE (NYSE:GE) probably has some new products, too.”

According to Cramer, Apple needed something more solid to spark its sagging share price. “This is an incremental positive in a stock that doesn’t need an incremental positive,” Cramer said. “The stock needs more. I’m looking for new dividends, new buybacks, and new breakout products — this is not it.”… (Read more)

Crushing High Hopes

Bernstein Research analyst Toni Sacconaghi said second half estimates for Apple, particularly those for the June quarter, were “too high” and hurting the company. The analyst was specifically concerned about the fact that Wall Street consensus figures were “forecasting a 1 percent sequential decline in iPhones in [the fiscal third quarter], which [was] historically unprecedented in the absence of a new device – which we would not hold our breath for (at least at this point).”

Sacconaghi, who has an Outperform rating on Apple’s stock along with a $725 price target, has projected revenue of $35.7 billion and earnings of $8.52 per share in the third quarter. In addition, the expectations of a new product launch prior to June were almost unrealistic, he said. Sacconaghi was also worried about Apple’s announcement that it was changing its way of forecasting earnings… (Read more)

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Wednesday

For most part of the day, it looked like Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) would continue the trend from Tuesday and close above its starting price. It was not to be, as the stock fell in the closing portion of the day to end 0.31 percent down and end at $456.83. Here are the top stories for the company from the day:

No Go In San Jose

The $1.05 billion jury verdict against Samsung (SSNLF.PK) in its famous California patent lawsuit against Apple has been upheld, with the ruling judge denying both a request for retrial and the iPhone maker’s appeal for higher damages. U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh ruled on Tuesday that the Korean company did not willfully infringe on Apple’s patents, thus denying the latter’s attempt to raise the damage amount decided upon last August by a federal jury. The jury’s verdict had established that Samsung acted willfully. An establishment of that fact would have raised the damages a massive three times. Koh did not set a final amount for damages.

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The case first started in April 2011 after the iPhone maker filed suit in the San Jose federal court claiming infringement of four design patents and three utility patents by Samsung. The Korean company countersued with its own allegations. Apple later widened the dispute to a second lawsuit in the San Jose, California, court and one with the U.S. International Trade Commission… (Read more)

The iPhone Wants Your Money

A survey has found that iPhone users have the highest carrier bills among all smartphone platforms, with 59 percent spending more than $100 per month. About 53 percent of Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android users, 40 percent of Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry users, and 56 percent of Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone users spend upward of that amount. The study, done by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, also found that a total of 10 percent of polled iPhone users spend more than $200 per month with their carrier, compared to 7 percent of Android users. Just 6 percent iPhone users spend $50 or less and none spend less than $25… (Read more)

Setting A Target

Apple may have become less exciting as a company and more range bound as a stock, but the current valuation suggests that its diminished prospects are fully priced in, Weeden & Co analyst Michael Purves said. In short, the company’s share price, which has succumbed to gravity over the past few months, was on it way up. Purves suggested a 14 percent move up to $520 by April 20. “We think a move higher will be driven more by a reappraisal of the stock at the current valuation and the technical support/rebound than by an event per se and thus not a major volatility event,” Purves wrote in an analysis. The stock was also clearly oversold, he said. (Read more)

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Thursday

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) fell marginally for the second straight day, falling 0.29 percent to close at $455.49. Here are the top stories that contributed to the stock’s movement through the day:

Threat to iPad’s Kingdom?

Apple’s iPad continued to lead the pack in worldwide tablet shipments in the fourth quarter of 2012, but its overall share dipped as devices from key rival Samsung (SSNLF.PK) surged in popularity. For the quarter ended December, iPad shipments grew 48.1 percent year-over year to total 22.9 million units, according to IDC. Tablet shipments for Samsung, though, zoomed up a massive 263 percent to reach 7.9 million units. Apple’s market share fell for the second consecutive quarter to come in at 43.6 percent, while Samsung’s grew to 15.1 percent to take second place. The iPad maker was down from 51.7 percent in the same quarter last year, while the Korean company rose from 7.3 percent.

Overall, the tablet market saw a 75.3 percent growth to 51.5 million shipments from 29.9 million a year ago. According to IDC, new product launches led to a surge in consumer interest. “The record-breaking quarter stands in stark contrast to the PC market, which saw shipments decline during the quarter for the first time in more than five years,” the report said… (Read more)

Samsung Can Rest Easy

Apple’s appeal to revive its attempt to ban U.S. sales of Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus smartphone has been denied. The appeal was related to a case that’s pending and goes to court in March 2014. However, Apple had asked the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. to take a second look at an earlier ruling that rejected its request for a sales ban. Apple’s allegation against the Galaxy Nexus relates to its search function, which the former claims violates a patent for collecting information from various databases. Apple wanted the full court, made of nine judges, to reverse the earlier findings made by a three-judge panel of the same court… (Read more)

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EU Regulation Trouble

Apple will stop selling its Mac Pro desktop in Europe starting March 1 because of new regulatory requirements in the region. The company announced the decision in a letter to resellers, according to MacRumors. In a media statement released on Thursday, Apple said that the regulatory issue was related to the large fans within the computer, which are unprotected. The amendment necessitate fan guards and increased protection on the ports on the electrical system, it said. Apple added that it would take final orders for the Mac Pro from resellers until February 18. The company said that countries outside of the European Union would not be impacted. (Read more)

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Friday

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) finished down for the third straight day on Friday, falling 0.41 percent to end the week at $453.62. Here are some of the stories that affected it during the day:

New Content Deal Coming?

Apple may start offering HBO content through its Apple TV set-top box starting as early as the middle of this year. According to Bloomberg, the iPhone maker and Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) officials are already in talks and may announce a partnership soon. If the two companies come to an agreement, the service would be the first Apple TV application to require pay television authentication and the first offering on the device from a major cable provider. The Apple TV device’s current subscription-based app offerings include Hulu Plus (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX).

Apple sold more than 2 million set-top boxes in the fiscal first quarter ended in December, but the deal may prove to be an even bigger positive catalyst for the device that competes with Roku and Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Xbox. Time Warner already offers HBO Go for both Roku and Xbox. The deal may also hold relevance in the speculation about a high-definition television from Apple. According to the buzz, one of the issues holding the iPhone maker back from launching the product has been the absence of content deals with major cable providers. (Read more)

A Win Over Samsung, Finally

Apple surpassed Samsung (SSNLF.PK) over the last quarter of 2012 to become the largest mobile phone seller in the U.S. for the first time in its history. According to a new survey from Strategy Analytics, Apple shipped 17.7 million units during the three months ending in December to Samsung’s 16.8 million units. The iPhone maker accounted for a record 34 percent share of the market to Samsung’s 32.3 percent. In the fourth quarter of 2011, Apple had shipped 12.8 million iPhones compared to Samsung’s 13.5 million smartphone units. The numbers take into account the Korean company’s feature phone units as well. Samsung had led the U.S. market since 2008. (Read more)

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Recovery On Way?

Apple declined the final three days of the week after falling under 1 percent on Monday and Tuesday. This trend, according to Market Studies’ Tom DeMark, is a fairly clear indicator of a turnaround that could lead to the company bouncing back starting as early as next week. “If you look at Apple’s entire decline, the most number of consecutive down days has been three,” DeMark said on CNBC. The investment research specialist was speaking of Apple’s share price decline over three days in a row ending on December 14 and then again on December 21. (Read more)

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