One of the best stocks of all time could be in for some trouble in the short run. The weekly chart below shows the parabolic run of this earnings growth machine.
During the 60% surge in the first quarter, not only did the stock get well stretched away from its longer term moving averages, the 10 and 20-week trend markers are about to cross bearish. These are roughly comparable to the 50 and 100-day moving averages.
On a break of $570, I believe Apple (AAPL - Analyst Report) is headed down to at least test the May lows near $525. And while I am a big fan of the company, its products, and its stock, there is no reason a trip to $500 and the 200-day moving average isn't in the cards of a descending price channel.
And this is especially true while we are still in the middle of a market correction driven by Euro-mess fears, deceleration in China, and US economic and "fiscal cliff" worries. Did you see that Philly Fed number today threatening the plunge of last July?
Yes, even the strongest stock can make a trip to the wood shed when markets get ugly. By the way, that 40-week moving average just above $480 is your rough marker for the 200-day moving average. But enough technical price mumbo jumbo -- let's have a look at what really drives Apple: the earnings momentum.
This is the Zacks proprietary Price & Consensus chart which plots earnings estimate trends against price. One look tells you why this stock keeps soaring. It's no wonder it surged from $400 to $640 earlier this year as profit projections ramped up. Growth and technology fund managers have to own this stock the same way lots of consumers have to own iPhones, iPads, and Macs.
Now that estimates have leveled off for this year and next near $47 and $54 EPS respectively, is the party over? Not at all. Apple will still grow iPhone and iPad sales that surprise, especially in Asia. And next year is going to have investors chomping at the bit to see "Apple TV" sales projections.
iTV, or whatever they are going to call it, is coming. Just ask expert Apple analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray.
Not Bearish, Just a Bull Looking for a Great Opportunity
The long-term bull case for AAPL is clear as they progress on an innovation frontier where they have a commanding lead -- the ultimate integration of the "four screens" of phone, computer, tablet, and TV.
Since 2009, I've said this is a stock where you always "buy the dips." I still believe that. It's just now I am looking for a dip to buy closer to $500.
Am I saying you should sell to play that potential dip? Not if you are a long-term investor. And that is likely the position of lots of fund managers too.
Yes, many money managers have gobs of juicy profits in this stock. But most of them look at Apple like this: we have more risk not owning it.
If you own it and can tolerate it going to $500 or $475, stay strong. That's where I hope to buy it for a run to new all-time highs above $650 in the next six months.
Do I hear $750?
Kevin Cook is a Senior Stock Strategist with Zacks.com.
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