A lot of Steve Jobs watchers were surprised three weeks ago when Mike Abramsky of RBC Capital Markets downgraded Apple (AAPL) to “underperform” and lowered his price target from $125 a share to $70. (link)
The stock, which opened at $84.3 that Friday, slid to $78.2 the following Monday, a 27-month low.
That bearish report — which cited Jobs’ recently announced medical leave — was especially troubling to anybody holding Apple shares because Abramsky’s track record is pretty good. He gets five stars out of five on Yahoo Finance’s Star Analyst list, based on the accuracy of his Apple earnings estimates over the past two fiscal years.
And although he didn’t do as well when the company released quarterly earnings the following week — Abramsky undershot Apple’s Q1 revenue by $367 million and its EPS by a full 30 cents ($1.48E vs. $1.78A) — his estimates for sales of Macs, iPods and iPhones were uncannily accurate. See Apple Q1 earnings: Analyzing the analysts.
So how would investors who followed Abramsky’s guidance have fared?
Not so well. The stock has been on a tear lately, climbing 27.5% in the past three weeks to close at $99.72 on Friday. Anybody who sold short the Monday after Abramsky’s downgrade, hoping to cash in when the stock hit $70, would have lost his or her shirt.
Abramsky, for his pains, was a co-recipient of iPhone Asia’s second Dean Wormer award, named for the “Animal House” academic famous for the quality of his advice (e.g. “Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.”)
But he’s certainly not the only expert out there advising folks to stay clear of this stock.
If you’re looking for a healthy dose of Apple FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt), you could do worse than to pay a visit to Paluxo.com, whose report Saturday on Apple as a short-term investment quotes Cabot Wealth Advisory analyst Timothy Lutts (“it’s highly likely that the stock’s best days are over”) and TheStreet.com director of research Colin Gillis (“The good news is out, so what’s coming next? Most likely it’s going to be a bad.” ). See Short Term Stock Trading: Should You Buy Apple (AAPL)?
Many long-term investors in Apple, on the other hand, have been richly rewarded. The same report notes that Apple’s gain from its 2003 low to its Dec. 2007 high was 3,090%.