Here's an upgrade you don't see every day: Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst A.M. Sacconaghi is upgrading shares of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), but radically slashing the firm's price target.
I guess that's what happens when stocks dive so quickly that you don't have the time to update your targets. Given the market's wicked volatility in recent months, you can probably expect plenty of these moves.
Sacconaghi is upgrading the bellwether from "market perform" to "outperform." The new 12-month price target is $135, representing a healthy advance from this morning's level, but well shy of the firm's original $175 goal.
There is plenty of room for Apple to run, apparently. Even the market took it easy on Steve Jobs' company last week. As the Nasdaq Composite shed 15% of its value, Apple's stock surrendered a mere 0.3%.
Sacconaghi suggests that the market's overlooking Apple's juicy cash flow in its value calculations. The company's lucrative arrangement with AT&T (NYSE:T) to subsidize its popular iPhone is a clear winner. Apple's also faring well against rival computer manufacturers who produce systems based on Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows. PC makers like Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) may have cheaper entry-level laptops on the market, but Apple continues to make steady gains in market share. Its iPod is the undisputed portable media player champ, well ahead of distant rivals like SanDisk (NASDAQ:SNDK).
Then again, this could be the firm trying to get its bullish call in ahead of what could be game-changing announcements tomorrow. Apple is expected to announce upgrades to its MacBook line on Tuesday.
It could also go the other way of course. Between rumblings of cheaper entry-level MacBooks, coinciding with its previous quarter's call for lower gross margins, tomorrow's news may spook investors.
In short, Sanford C. Bernstein isn't going for the lay-up. Then again, with Apple's price dropping to the double digits earlier this month, upgrading the perpetual market beater at this opportunistic moment has all the makings of a slam dunk.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz wonders if the first wave of "brick" ads will go with The Commodores or Ben Folds Five for a brick-themed anthem. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.