The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) began Wednesday in the green, but it didn't last. The Dow was down about 0.2% at 11:20 a.m. EDT as the pandemic continued to worsen in many areas of the United States. The U.S. hit 60,000 daily confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the all-time total close to 3 million.
An escalating pandemic almost certainty isn't good news for Apple (AAPL -0.78%), but the market brushed off any concerns as an analyst price-target bump sent shares higher. Meanwhile, International Business Machines (IBM 1.27%) stock headed lower along with the market after the IT giant announced a software acquisition.
Apple rallies on another price-target increase
Apple stock carved out a new 52-week high on Wednesday after Deutsche Bank raised its price target on the stock. This comes one day after Raymond James boosted its price target due to the potential of 5G iPhones.
Deutsche Bank bumped up its Apple price target from $380 to $400 and maintained a buy rating. Analyst Jeriel Ong cited the potential for a strong recovery in sales and an improving outlook for Apple's upcoming 5G iPhones. Sales of Apple's iPhones were down big during the worst of the pandemic in the United States, with KeyBanc putting the decline at 77% in April.
This price-target increase does come with some cautiousness. Ong is concerned about the speed of Apple stock's recovery since bottoming out in March. Shares of Apple are up nearly 30% year to date, despite the company's prospects almost certainly being worse today than they were prior to the pandemic.
Apple will report its fiscal third-quarter results later this month, and the numbers will almost certainly be awful. The company is expected to launch a slate of 5G iPhones later this year, which would have likely driven a significant upgrade cycle in normal times. But with the economy reeling from the pandemic, consumer appetite for pricey gadgets may be muted.
Apple stock was up 1.4% by late morning. The tech giant is now worth about $1.64 trillion.
IBM acquires automation company
IBM makes plenty of small acquisitions meant to bolster its capabilities in various areas. The company announced on Wednesday that it had inked a deal to acquire WDG Automation, a Brazilian provider of robotic process automation software.
Robotic process automation involves software "robots" that can perform tasks directly within an application's graphical user interface, as opposed to other workflow automation tools that use application-programming interfaces. WDG Automation's software allows business users to create automations without the help of IT.
IBM's press release sums up the benefits of using WDG Automation's technology: "[B]usinesses will be able to efficiently reengineer, optimize and standardize operations, while eliminating business processes and IT operations that are redundant or unnecessary....organizations will be able to quickly identify more granular opportunities for automation, including tasks that have many steps."
IBM expects the acquisition to close in the third quarter of this year. WDG Automation's software will be available via the Red Hat OpenShift cloud platform. IBM stock was down about 0.4% by late morning.