* Say co may report better-than-expected Q4 gross margins
* iPhones, iPads have tailwinds
* BofA raises price target to $400 from $360
* Oppenheimer ups price target to $345 from $330
Oct 8 BofA Merrill Lynch and Oppenheimer
raised their price targets on Apple's (AAPL.O) shares and said
good pricing and forex trends could result in
better-than-expected gross margins for the maker of the
popular iPhone in the fourth quarter.
Investors will be looking closely at Apple's quarterly
sales, as the company, famous for cautious outlook, had
projected fourth-quarter revenue exceeding analysts'
It will announce the quarterly numbers on Oct. 18.
"We believe our gross margin estimate could prove
conservative on better than expected component pricing
environment and iPad gross margin ramp, particularly in the
first quarter of 2011 and beyond," BofA analyst Scott Craig
said in a note to clients.
The company expects 35 percent gross margin for the fourth
The brokerage raised its price target to $400 from $360,
and said the market looked strong for iPhones and iPads, and
Asia production levels remained very solid.
Oppenheimer, which raised its price target to $345 from
$330, said Apple's stock has risen well this year but still
lagged the improvement in the company's fundamentals, because
of investor concern about Apple's size.
"We think the last 6 months have prepared investors to get
over this psychological hump. And we think a blowout September
quarter will provide the catalytic push in the rump for an
overdue catch-up trade," Oppenheimer analyst Yair Reiner said
in a note.
Analysts expect the company to report fourth-quarter
profit of $4.04 a share, excluding items, and revenue of
$18.83 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Shares of Apple -- which competes with Research in Motion
RIM.TO, Nokia NOK1V.HE and Microsoft (MSFT.O) in various
markets, were trading down modestly in pre-market trade. They
closed at $289.22 Thursday on Nasdaq.
The company's stock has rallied 15 percent since it
reported third-quarter results on July 20. In contrast,
Microsoft's shares have declined 4 percent in the same period.
(Reporting by Sayantani Ghosh in Bangalore;)
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