Apple's Miss on Tuesday Could Trigger a Rally on Wednesday

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) bulls better brace for a quarterly miss tomorrow afternoon.

Apple bears better brace for a bounce on Wednesday.

No one will be surprised by the consumer tech giant falling short on the bottom line tomorrow.

It's true that most of the companies that have already checked in this earnings season are holding up well on the profitability front. According to Barron's, nearly 67% of the companies that have reported this month beat Wall Street's lowball income targets. However, Apple has proven to be the exception to the rule this rally, falling to a 52-week low as S&P 500 and Dow raced to all-time highs earlier this month.

It's not just the share-price momentum that's bucking the trend. Apple has missed more often than not under Tim Cook's tenure, including falling short in two of the past three quarters.

Analysts also continue to get spooked by troubling retail channel checks and gloomy snapshots provided by Apple suppliers.

Even when the news is good on the surface -- for example, when Verizon's (NYSE: VZ  ) quarterly report last week showed that more than 55% of the smartphones it sold during the first three months of the year were iPhones -- it's still ugly for Apple's bottom line once you dig deeper. Just half of those 4 million smartphones were the high-margin iPhone 5 handsets. Too many Verizon Wireless customers went for the cheaper iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S smartphones that Apple sells at lower price points on leaner markups.

However, the biggest reason to brace for miss is probably where pro projections are heading. Let's go over the past three months of Wall Street profit targets.

Date 

EPS Estimate

Today

$10.07

7 Days Ago

$10.12

30 Days Ago

$10.18

60 Days Ago

$10.24

90 Days Ago

$11.84

Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Analysts continue to scale back their forecasts, and that's important. The freshest estimates consist of lower revisions, so one assumes that the higher estimates are probably the stale ones.

A lot of tech companies had analysts hosing down their outlooks only to beat the watered-down expectations earlier this earnings season, but the smart money has to be on an Apple miss here.

The important thing for investors to remember is that a miss won't necessarily send the stock lower.

History doesn't always repeat itself
Bulls will gladly point to last year's fiscal second quarter. Analysts were betting on net income clocking in at $10.04 a share, suspiciously close to where the consensus estimate is at $10.07 a share a year later. Apple cranked out a profit of $12.30 a share. Wall Street was blown away, and the stock rallied 9% the next day.

However, there were several times before that when Apple did beat expectations but the stock still sold off. A big reason for the divergence is that the stock had rallied heading into the quarterly report. Success was discounted, and here's where Apple selling at its lowest levels since 2011 could pay off for those that are long Apple shares.

An Apple miss may still be interpreted as a positive by the market. If the guidance isn't dreary or if Apple hints at upcoming product rollouts or beefs up its initiatives to return money to its stakeholders, a bottom-line miss won't be the end of the world.

It may be actually be the start of a rally that is long overdue for a company whose share price has crumbled at a headier pace than its contracting fundamentals.

Yes, Apple's stock can bounce higher after a bad report -- just as it dropped after strong reports when the sentiment was overbearingly bullish.

Got Apple? Get smart.
There's no doubt that Apple is at the center of technology's largest revolution ever, and that longtime shareholders have been handsomely rewarded with over 1,000% gains. However, there is a debate raging as to whether Apple remains a buy. The Motley Fool's senior technology analyst and managing bureau chief, Eric Bleeker, is prepared to fill you in on both reasons to buy and reasons to sell Apple, and what opportunities are left for the company (and your portfolio) going forward. To get instant access to his latest thinking on Apple, simply click here now.

 


Read/Post Comments (4) | Recommend This Article (8)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On April 22, 2013, at 9:19 PM, DanManners wrote:

    Very interesting article. I thought with guidance so low and with 1 bad earnings behind us it could go up. That happened recently after the Galaxy broadway show announcement.

  • Report this Comment On April 22, 2013, at 9:20 PM, tychicum wrote:

    Netflix is on fire tonight ...

  • Report this Comment On April 22, 2013, at 10:12 PM, huibs wrote:

    <i>Apple has missed more often than not under Tim Cook's tenure, including falling short in two of the past three quarters.</i>

    ..please show me where Apple missed Apple's guidance..

    ..wall street missed 2 of the last 3 quarters, not Apple..

  • Report this Comment On April 22, 2013, at 10:25 PM, elwood711 wrote:

    I think this article hits the nail on the head. This stock has already cratered $70 in last few weeks and is ridiculously cheap. I think a miss is already baked into the price. Only way this goes lower, IMO, is with a way worse than expected earnings, dismal guidance, and no news on capital allocation. Worse case this stock goes to $300-$350 levels. On the other side, a big dividend increased or large buyback program and this thing could sky rocket back to $600+ really quick.

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