Today's was a tough session for stocks, with the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) falling by a little more than 1%, the index's largest daily decline in over a month. Meanwhile, the narrower, price-weighted Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) lost roughly three-quarters of a percentage point.
Reflecting those losses, the VIX Index (VOLATILITYINDICES: ^VIX ) , Wall Street's fear gauge, shot up by more than 11% to close above 14. (The VIX is calculated from S&P 500 option prices and reflects investor expectations for stock market volatility over the coming 30 days.)
Reading between the lines
Is Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) the big winner in the ongoing saga of Dell's (NASDAQ: DELL ) bid to go private? Not exactly. Let's be clear: Apple is not involved in the transaction. Nevertheless, investment bank Credit Suisse believes the case Dell's board has made to shareholders in support of Silver Lake Partners and Michael Dell's leveraged buyout offer highlights the reasons Apple is superbly positioned to capitalize on consumer trends affecting the technology sector. On March 29, Dell filed a proxy statement calling on shareholders to approve Silver Lake Partners and Michael Dell's offer.
In a research piece published on Barron's website today, Credit Suisse wrote:
We continue to believe that Apple (AAPL) is a beneficiary in the shift to mobile computing highlighted in Dell's filing. In a multidevice world, we see Apple as materially advantaged compared to peers as the company simultaneously addresses the PC, tablet and smartphone markets.
As such, the broker sees nearly 40% in the shares from today's closing price:
With strength of iPhone/iPad sales, we see calendar 2013 and 2014 earnings per share of $46.23 and $56.37. We reiterate our $600 price target with the stock remaining our top pick for the next 12 months. Apple trades on 8.0 times our calendar 2014 EPS, which is inexpensive given the 11% growth we expect over calendar 2012-2014 and net cash per share of $145.
Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs' enthusiasm for Apple has tempered, as the influential broker removed the stock from its "Conviction Buy" list yesterday and cut its price target by 13%. Apple had been on the list since Dec. 2010. Note, however, that the stock remains a buy, and, at $575, Goldman's revised price target isn't much below Credit Suisse's $600 target. In fact, the latter figure is the median price target among 46 analysts surveyed by Thomson/ First Call.
With much of our digital and technological lives almost entirely shaped and molded by just a handful of companies, will Apple really be the main beneficiary? Find out "Who Will Win the War Between the 5 Biggest Tech Stocks?" in The Motley Fool's latest free report, which details the knock-down, drag-out battle being waged by the five kings of tech. Click here to keep reading.