Apple Inc. (AAPL) Rating Lowered to Hold at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a report issued on Monday morning.

According to Zacks, “Apple 's results will continue to be driven by iPhones, and Services segment and will help the stock sustain momentum against S&P 500 going forward. This, along with the company's $1-billion investment for acquiring original content and its plan to break into film distribution market will further boost services’ revenues. Apple recently collaborated with Steven Spielberg's Amblin TV and NBCUniversal to revive Amazing Stories. Additionally, foray into fast-growing technologies like AI & AR/VR are long-term growth catalysts.Estimates remain stable ahead of the upcoming fourth quarter fiscal 2017 earnings release. However, the new iPhone X at $999 is quite pricey, particularly for markets like China and India. Moreover, intensifying competition from cheaper Chinese handset-makers cannot be ignored.”

A number of other research analysts have also recently issued reports on AAPL. Royal Bank Of Canada reiterated an outperform rating and set a $160.08 price objective (down from $176.00) on shares of Apple in a report on Wednesday, August 9th. Longbow Research reiterated a buy rating and set a $173.00 price objective on shares of Apple in a report on Friday, August 11th. Instinet reiterated a buy rating and set a $175.00 price objective (up from $165.00) on shares of Apple in a report on Wednesday, August 2nd. Rosenblatt Securities reiterated a neutral rating and set a $150.00 price objective on shares of Apple in a report on Thursday, September 21st. Finally, Bank of America Corporation reiterated a buy rating and set a $180.00 price objective on shares of Apple in a report on Tuesday, September 26th. Seven equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and forty-six have issued a buy rating to the stock. The company currently has an average rating of Buy and a consensus target price of $197.68.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, November 2nd. The iPhone maker reported $2.07 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.87 by $0.20. The firm had revenue of $52.58 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $50.71 billion. Apple had a net margin of 21.09% and a return on equity of 36.36%. The business’s revenue was up 12.2% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period last year, the company earned $1.50 earnings per share.

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The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, November 16th. Investors of record on Monday, November 13th will be issued a $0.63 dividend. This represents a $2.52 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 1.50%. Apple’s payout ratio is currently 27.39%.

In related news, insider Johny Srouji sold 5,892 shares of Apple stock in a transaction dated Monday, August 28th. The stock was sold at an average price of $161.00, for a total value of $948,612.00. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now directly owns 70,358 shares in the company, valued at $11,327,638. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this hyperlink. Also, CEO Timothy D. Cook sold 268,623 shares of Apple stock in a transaction dated Monday, August 28th. The shares were sold at an average price of $160.63, for a total value of $43,148,912.49. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold 541,177 shares of company stock valued at $85,864,804 over the last 90 days. 0.08% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

Hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. Vantage Financial Partners Ltd. Inc. bought a new stake in shares of Apple in the second quarter valued at about $400,000. Blue Sky Asset Management LLC bought a new stake in shares of Apple in the second quarter valued at about $108,000. FNY Managed Accounts LLC raised its holdings in shares of Apple by 852.4% in the second quarter. FNY Managed Accounts LLC now owns 800 shares of the iPhone maker’s stock valued at $115,000 after acquiring an additional 716 shares in the last quarter. Hefty Wealth Partners raised its holdings in shares of Apple by 27.6% in the second quarter. Hefty Wealth Partners now owns 804 shares of the iPhone maker’s stock valued at $115,000 after acquiring an additional 174 shares in the last quarter. Finally, American Beacon Advisors Inc. bought a new position in Apple in the first quarter worth about $117,000. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 60.33% of the company’s stock.

Apple Company Profile

Apple Inc (Apple) designs, manufactures and markets mobile communication and media devices, personal computers, and portable digital music players, and a variety of related software, services, peripherals, networking solutions, and third-party digital content and applications. The Company’s products and services include iPhone, iPad, Mac, iPod, Apple TV, a portfolio of consumer and professional software applications, the iOS and OS X operating systems, iCloud, and a variety of accessory, service and support offerings.

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