It was a good week for Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) , and not just because the acquisition of Beats Electronics and Beats Music was well received by a market that initially didn't like the idea. At least three analysts pushed their price targets higher.
Barclays, Bernstein Research, and Goldman Sachs boosted their price targets to $655, $700, and $720, respectively. They didn't have to update their ratings to justify the loftier goals. Apple shares have been on fire lately, hitting a new 52-week high on the week.
The Beats deal helps, giving Apple some serious skin in premium headphones and a foot in the door for the on-demand streaming service that it wasn't able to launch on its own. The deal also gives Apple, a company that's been short on charismatic leadership since Steve Jobs passed, some serious street cred in the music industry with Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre on board.
We'll see how it all plays out. Apple expects the deal to close in the fourth quarter. Critics argue that Apple paid too much or that it's a sign of desperation, but that's better than stagnating, which is what Apple's growing cash balance is doing on its balance sheet. Buybacks and dividends are great uses for Apple's gobs of greenbacks, but there's also something to be said about making its own luck by acquiring companies that it can help grow with its global reach.
Apple's stock shed $2 billion in market cap the day the deal was first reported several weeks ago, but seeing Apple trade at its highest point since late 2012 validates the move. Apple's acquiring hardware, digital assets, and brain power to help it become a bigger force in digital music. There's nothing wrong with that.
Briefly in the news
And now let's look at some of the other stories that shaped our week.
- Qihoo 360 (NYSE: QIHU ) posted another blowout quarter in China. You know you're doing things right when revenue soars 141%, and earnings grow even faster. Investing in China's Internet revolution is risky, but it's hard to ignore the productivity its key players are achieving.
- Big Lots (NYSE: BIG ) was another winner after posting better-than-expected earnings. Sales were generally flat, but the closeouts retailer managed to chime in with improving margins to serve up a healthy bottom-line beat.
- MercadoLibre (NASDAQ: MELI ) moved north after JPMorgan Chase upgraded the South American marketplace operator to "overweight." The stock's price target is being cut from $114 to $104, but that's a symptom of a brutal correction that has seen the stock shed more than 40% of its value since peaking in October.
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