Analysis: Apple earnings need to overcome technical malaise

Sat Jan 19, 2013 8:11am EST
 
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By Rodrigo Campos and Poornima Gupta

NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - To those who study technical stock charts, Apple Inc looks broken.

Even though it is widely viewed to be undervalued after hitting an 11-month low this week and nine out of 10 brokerages recommend that investors buy or hold the stock, Apple shareholders could still be in for more rough times if technical strategists are right.

They note that trading charts show few price points where investors can expect clusters of buying to support Apple's shares. For example, the stock's medium-term momentum, based on its 50-day rate of acceleration, has been on a downward slope since March, but has not hit over-sold levels.

Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist at Schaeffer's Investment Research, said it is hard to find an entry point at current levels, calling the stock "broken."

"There's been a lot of technical damage, but at the same time it still looks like it's in a downtrend," Detrick said. "This could still be a name you want to avoid and could very well still underperform in our opinion."

Apple has a chance to turn things around when it reports results for the December quarter on January 23. Investors are unusually nervous because of reports that Apple might be curtailing purchases of screens for its iPhone and iPad, which together account for over 70 percent of revenue.

If Apple can substantially beat Wall Street's subdued expectations, that would go a long way towards restoring confidence in the near term. It is not enough for Apple to just meet targets - that could cause shares to fall further in the short term, some analysts say. Apple has only missed analysts' profit forecasts four times in the last 10 years, two of those in the most recent reporting periods.

"If you have a 10 percent to 15 percent beat on estimates, it will be enough to have people say, 'Oh my gosh, Apple has its game back,'" said Chris Bertelsen, chief investment officer of Global Financial Private Capital, a Sarasota-based wealth manager with $1.7 billion assets under management.   Continued...

 
An Apple iPhone 5 phone is displayed in the Apple Store on 5th Avenue in New York, September 21, 2012. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson