Apple Inc. (AAPL) is about to report earnings, but Maxim Group isn’t waiting for the details. The firm upgraded AAPL stock just before its all-important fiscal Q4 report, upping its rating from “neutral” to “buy” with a $167 price target.
According to reports, Maxim has confidence in AAPL stock based on the theory that previous talk of weaker margins are overblown, and that strong Apple iPhone sales will lift the stock above the lofty expectations of Wall Street.
The $167 price target for the tech giant is about 40% higher than current pricing.
That’s all before Apple earnings, of course. Because the target could be even more out of reach if AAPL stock lays an egg thanks to weaker comps in its smartphone business and disappointment in China.
I am on record as being a pessimist about this upcoming Apple earnings report, recently stating that an iPhone miss would be the end of the line for AAPL stock.
But Maxim seems to think the opposite, based on strength in shares of the tech company lately and recent pricing comparisons with rival Samsung (SSNLF).
AAPL Stock: No Reason to Be Overconfident
For the record, I won’t argue with the power of Apple or its ability to garner a premium price for its products. But I do think that the analysts are taking a big risk releasing this upside call before Apple earnings, which will reveal the first-ever same-day iPhone launch in mainland China.
Given the uncertainty in the region and the growing importance of this market to AAPL stock, it’s a bit premature to put price targets on the company without the latest facts. And for anyone thinking about playing Apple on an earnings move, remember that Apple stock rarely moves according to the actual numbers it reports.
Hey, maybe the folks at Maxim know something we don’t about AAPL stock ahead of this crucial Apple earnings report … but I doubt it.
Jeff Reeves is the editor of InvestorPlace.com and the author of The Frugal Investor’s Guide to Finding Great Stocks. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter via @JeffReevesIP.