Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

What's the point of those Apple price targets?

February 9, 2012: 9:14 AM ET

Like the tortoise in Achilles' footrace, they may be perpetually unreachable goals

"There's scant evidence that the stock market itself has paid much if any attention to analysts' price targets in recent years," writes Needham's Charlie Wolf in a note to clients Thursday that raises his own Apple (AAPL) target $80 to $620.

He's got a point. the average target among the two-dozen analysts we sampled on October 19, the day after Apple's Q4 2011 earnings report, was $520. Yet that same day the stock fell from $422.24 to $398.62.

Now, with Apple's share price setting new records on a daily basis (it closed Wednesday at $476.68) the mean target, according to Thomson/First Call, has crawled ahead to just over $565.

"Pundits have written scores of articles that purport to explain Apple's tepid valuation," Wolf concludes. "In our opinion, all have failed. And so have we. But we continue to believe the valuation exercise is one worth undertaking if only to calibrate the difference between Apple's current share price and the fair price generated by our model."

Below: Wolf new model. Gotta love that Fudge Factor.

Source: Needham & Co.

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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