Apple’s stock price tends to do well in the six months prior to a new iPhone introduction, as investor excitement builds about how rumored new features might attract a wave of sales. With the shares reaching an all-time high on Tuesday—roughly six months before the next iPhone is expected to debut—Wall Street has clearly noticed the trend.
Amidst a series of positive analyst reports this week, Bernstein Research’s Toni Sacconganhi on Tuesday raised his price target to $160 from $140 in a note on Tuesday. And if U.S. tax law changes as Republicans are seeking to allow Apple to bring back its $230 billion overseas cash, the stock could hit $170, Sacconaghi wrote.
Apple shares, already up 22% this year, hit an all-time high of $142.80 in midday trading. Coincidentally, $142.86 would equal $1,000 per share before the company’s seven-for-one stock split back in 2014. On Tuesday, the company announced a slew of minor upgrades, like a cheaper iPad and an app called Clips for making short videos.
“Despite its strong YTD performance, we continue to believe the risk-reward on Apple remains attractive and are raising our price target,” the Bernstein analyst wrote. “We believe investors should look to hold overweight positions over the coming months.”
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Like many of his peers, Sacconaghi is predicting that the next iPhone, dubbed the iPhone 8 by outsiders, will include enough new features to convince more existing iPhone owners to upgrade while also stimulating more defections from Android users. Amid rumors that Apple will introduce a new higher-priced model with a larger and curved screen, Sacconaghi expects the average selling price may rise as well.
Apple’s stock has outperformed the market by an average of 16% in the six months prior to iPhone introductions, according to Sacconaghi’s report. It beat the market by only 4% on average in the six months following the phone debuts.
Earlier this week, Cowen & Co analyst Timothy Arcuri raised his price target on Apple (AAPL) to $155 from $135. Amit Daryanani at RBC Capital and Piper Jaffray’s Michael Olson both maintained price targets of $155, while predicted strong gains for the next iPhone, which in turn will boost services revenue, they said.
Still, following such a nearly universal trend among Wall Street analysts isn’t always a route to riches. And Apple’s six-month performance before the two most recent iPhone introductions trailed the market by an average of more than 4%.