Canaccord Genuity reiterated its buy rating on the stock and boosted its price target to $665 from $650, citing expectations that consumers are still snapping up the iPhone 4S in the current quarter.
"Our monthly channel checks indicated very strong sales trends for the iPhone 4S at all three U.S. carriers and overall strong iPhone sales in international markets," the firm said. "We are increasing our March quarter iPhone estimates from 30.1M to 32.6M units."
The company looks like more of a juggernaut than ever, according to Canaccord, which estimates Apple is hogging nearly all of the handset industry's profits.
"With the strong iPhone market share gains during Q4/C2011, we estimate Apple generated a remarkable 80% share of estimated Q4/C2011 handset industry operating profits versus 56% in Q3/C2011 and 48% in Q4/C2010 with only 8.1% global handset market share," the firm said. "Demonstrating the strength of the iPhone's profit share gains during Q4/C2011, Samsung's share of industry profits declined from roughly 26% in Q3/C2011 to 15% in Q4C2011 even though Samsung's share of Android smartphones increased from 35% in Q3/C2011 to 39% in Q4/C2011."Apple shares have already gained nearly 18% this year, blowing past Exxon Mobil (XOM) in the market-cap race for the title of world's largest company, $460 billion to $402 billion; and yet the stock still has a reasonable forward price-to-earnings multiple of 10.5X vs. 12.8X for the S&P 500. Check out TheStreet's quote page for Apple for year-to-date share performance, analyst ratings, earnings estimates and much more. As for Friday's scheduled news, the earnings roster is pretty thin. Notables include Alcatel-Lucent (ALU), AllianceBernstein (AB), Arch Coal (ACI), Barclays Bank (BCS), Calpine (CPN), FLIR Systems (FLIR), and Flowers Foods (FLO). Treehouse Foods (THS) could be interesting. The company is reporting its fiscal fourth-quarter results on Friday, and expectations are low after it issued a warning late last month. The average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters is for earnings of 87 cents a share on revenue of $535.8 million. The stock is down more than 15% in 2012, and the company, which owns E.D. Smith and Bay Valley Foods, has a credibility problem because it ultimately reduced its full-year outlook three times. The sell side is on the sidelines with 10 of the 15 analysts covering Treehouse at hold and the rest split between strong buy (1), buy (3), and underperform (1). The median 12-month price target sits at $60, implying potential upside of 9% to Thursday's regular session close at $55.07.
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