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Why Apple Stock Dropped Today

By Rich Smith – Dec 14, 2021 at 2:02PM

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The tech giant's decision to go back to a more cautious COVID-19 approach erased the share price boost it had gotten from an analyst's upgrade.

What happened

After enjoying an initial surge Tuesday morning, Apple (AAPL 1.98%) shares slipped in early afternoon trading as warring headlines took a toll on the tech stock.

As of 1:30 p.m. ET, Apple stock was down 1.2%.

Sir Isaac Newton reference -- an apple falling and hitting a cartoon character on the head.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

The good news for Apple Tuesday was that Bank of America upgraded the stock. As reported, BofA analyst Wamsi Mohan gave Apple a buy rating and a $210 price target. He based those moves on his view that not only will Apple sell more iPhones in its fiscal 2023 than other analysts expect, it will post stronger services growth as well, and probably launch an augmented reality headset that it can sell at a premium price.

In the BofA analyst's view, these developments will cause other analysts to re-rate Apple stock higher, helping to drive its price up.

Now what

That's the good news. Now here's the bad. No sooner had Bank of America published its bullish outlook than multiple sources reported that Apple has reinstated its mask mandate within all of its U.S. retail stores.

As all-things-Apple news site MacRumors points out, it was only last month that Apple finally dropped its in-store masking rule "for customers in many U.S. states" as rising coronavirus vaccinations seemed to be diminishing the threat of COVID-19. But then Thanksgiving Day happened, omicron appeared, and a delta-driven wave of new cases is surging around the country and the world. As such, Apple management felt compelled to boost its precautionary measures again, which could make the prospect of shopping at Apple Stores relatively less attractive for some customers.  

Is this news really big enough to erase the positive effects of an endorsement from Bank of America, though? I honestly don't think it will be. I mean, all that's really happening here is Apple rolling back the calendar a few weeks on its COVID-19 policies. And how was Apple doing back then? It was enjoying 29% sales growth and 62% earnings growth.

If that's the worst we can expect to happen from Apple reinstating its in-store mask mandate, I think the stock is going to end up doing just fine.

Rich Smith has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool recommends the following options: long March 2023 $120 calls on Apple and short March 2023 $130 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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