Apple 2.0

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Merrill Lynch recommends Apple, lowers price target

November 19, 2012: 10:38 AM ET

From $840 set in September and reiterated two weeks ago to $780 on Monday

FORTUNE -- In an odd research note issued Monday, Merrill Lynch's Scott Craig lowered his price target on Apple (AAPL) to $780 from $840 even while assuring clients he "remains positive despite recent volatility."

He attributes the stock's recent eight-week sell-off to four factors:

(1) investors locking in profits heading into the year-end and a potential capital gain tax increase in 2013,
(2) perceived less than stellar iPhone 5 launch,
(3) near term margin pressure and
(4) competition.

"Although we do not expect these uncertainties to alleviate near term," he concludes, "we remain positive on current product cycles and believe the stock offers a very attractive balance of growth and value."

Even at $780, Craig's new price target is higher than the Street's consensus, which according to Thomson/First Call now stands at $763.92.

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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

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