Apple Stock Surge Makes Analysts Play Catch-Up: Chart of the Day

Apple Inc.’s stock performance since the iPhone and iPad maker reported earnings five weeks ago gave analysts a reason to revisit their share-price estimates.

The average projection two days ago exceeded Apple’s closing price by only $2.95 a share, or 0.5 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The gap was the narrowest since July 2007 in dollar terms.

As the CHART OF THE DAY illustrates, the price difference got smaller because shares of the Cupertino, California-based company rose faster than the estimates, which typically cover the next 12 months. Apple added 19 percent since April 23, when it posted fiscal second-quarter earnings and sales that exceeded analysts’ average projections.

“The momentum trade is hard not to acknowledge at this point,” Ben Reitzes, a New York-based analyst at Barclays Plc, wrote in a report yesterday. While Reitzes is neutral on Apple, his 12-month price estimate is $655, or 5 percent more than yesterday’s close of $624.01.

Cantor Fitzgerald & Co.’s Brian White has the highest figure, $777, among 45 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Six others are tied for second at $700. They include Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.’s Toni Sacconaghi, who raised his 12-month projection yesterday from $615.

Apple’s shares fell yesterday after gaining for seven straight days, their longest streak since October. They would have to advance about 13 percent more to surpass the record of $705.07, set in September 2012.

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