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Market Preview: A Good Bad Sign


"Our supply-side checks in Asia (end-September visits) in combination with our new demand-side model suggest Apple's iPhone sales could slightly beat recently lowered expectations for fiscal Q1," the firm said. "Moreover, supply constraints suggest that demand for the iPhone and iPad mini is likely to spill over into Q2, supporting near-term earnings dynamics and the share price."

That tone isn't exactly negative but it's also a far cry from the gushing euphoria that's dominated sell-side commentary about both the company and the stock for so long

That's not to say there isn't positive commentary out there. Here's the take of Sterne Agee, which has a buy rating and $840 price target on Apple.

"In sum, we believe concerns are overdone and this appears to be a typical consolidation after a big run," the firm said. "From our supply chain checks, demand remains robust with improving production and the bottleneck moving to assembly of the iPhone 5 itself vs. component constraints. In addition, we are picking up much increased component activity with what appears to be for an iPad mini."

And finally, it was a busy after-hours session as Alcoa (AA) got the previously mentioned third-quarter earnings season off to a positive start by delivering a surprise profit. Shares of the Dow component were last down 10 cents at $9.03 in extended trades, pulling back after running as high as $9.40, with volume above 2.85 million.

Also active in late action was Yum! Brands (YUM), whose stock was up more than 4% after the restaurant operator, whose brands include Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC, lifted its outlook for the full year to adjusted earnings of at least $3.24 a share after beating Wall Street's expectations for its third-quarter results.

Netflix (NFLX) is a candidate to continue its wild rise this week following news that CEO Reed Hastings plans to step down from Microsoft's (MSFT) board. The stock ticked lower in late trades after surrendering nearly 11% in the regular session following a downgrade by Bank of America.

There was also some late ratings action as B of A downgraded both U.S. Bancorp (USB) and Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB) to neutral, citing valuation after the stocks have done so well of late. Fifth Third was down nearly 1% in the extended session to $15.74 on volume of more than 100,00, while U.S. Bancorp's stock was flat.

Of Fifth Third, B of A said: "While we continue to be bullish on the capital return story at FITB, we believe this is now largely accounted for in valuation. By contrast, capital return expectations are far more muted for money center banks, and investors that prefer to continue to invest in this theme will find more upside in C and JPM, in our view, than at regional banks generally."

-- Written by Michael Baron in New York.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Michael Baron.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.
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