Enough With the Apple Price Targets, Already!

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Snappy price target numbers grab attention like little else, but -- with few exceptions (Reformed Broker was the standout) -- pass without a word of long-term caution from the media.

A recent Associated Press headline, for example, screamed: "Analyst sets $1,001 price target on Apple (AAPL) shares."

Last July, that same analyst came out with a price target of $666. From Arabian Nights to a devilish turn, the numbers themselves serve as a visual lure, as do the numbers clawing at each other to be the highest on Wall Street. Do I hear Space Odyssey 2001?

With tongue planted firmly in cheek, Reformed Broker, also known as Joshua Brown, leads his article with a price target of $2275. "I got there by looking at a telephone keypad," he wrote, "and taking the digits from the A, A, P and L of the ticker symbol. Clever, huh?"

Reformed Broker is long the stock, but weary that from the Internet bubble days on, "too many goldilocks stocks get kneecapped just when the buy-recs-for-attention thing begins to roll."

He is right. More should take notice.

This is, to be certain, nothing that will impact Apple's stock price in the near term, or even mid-range. But long term, the history of stocks grabbing attention due to flashy price targets set by analysts is never good. You want traders in the stock for substantive reasons. So far, they are on Apple. But consider it a long-term factor to keep an eye or two on.
At the time of publication, Fuchs had no positions in any of the stocks mentioned in this column.

Marek Fuchs was a stockbroker for Shearson Lehman Brothers and a money manager before becoming a journalist who wrote The New York Times' "County Lines" column for six years. He also did back-up beat coverage of The New York Knicks for the paper's Sports section for two seasons and covered other professional and collegiate sports. He has contributed frequently to many of the Times' other sections, including National, Metro, Escapes, Style, Real Estate, Arts & Leisure, Travel, Money & Business, Circuits and the Op-Ed Page.

For his "Business Press Maven" column on how business and finance are covered by the media, Fuchs was named best business journalist critic in the nation by the Talking Biz website at The University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Fuchs is a frequent speaker on the business media, in venues ranging from National Public Radio to the annual conference of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

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