And when I say, "most influential," what I mean is they have the greatest ability to affect Apple stock price due to their affiliation with a prominent brokerage, or they have strong media coverage. And this strong coverage isn't based on meritocracy, it's usually based on some past blunder or outrageous statement they made, or, under rare circumstances, some lucky call. So, why do we place so much weight on an Apple analyst's opinion, when they are more likely than not to be wrong, and therefore will misguide you in your investing and trading decisions? It's a rhetorical question. I won't waste your time with an exhaustive study of the methods used to value Apple, you can click here for that. Instead, I'll just point out a few more reasons why fundamental analysis techniques have little or no validity. So, besides the fact that most analysts use freshers right out of school to collect and analyze the data, most of the data collected is out of date. Things move fast in this industry, and six-month to year-old data don't cut it. A related problem is that their conclusions are dated, usually good for only a few months. How often have you seen analysts restate their target price after a minor, or perceived, miss (whisper miss) on an earnings report, or a spy report on supply chain data? If fundamental analysis had any validity at all, if it was a tried and true scientific method, being performed by experienced and wise analysts, then you would think they would agree for the most part, or at least be in the same ballpark. But you can forget that, because 40 different analysts looking at the exact same data will come up with 40 different conclusions. The title of this article is How To Rate An Apple Analyst. Well, the answer is, don't even try, they're likely to be wrong. The best advice is to use your own research, formulate your own thesis, and develop your own conclusions. Then, when you lose money, you can put the blame where it belonged in the first place. -- Written by Ernie Varitimos, author of the Apple Investor blog.Follow @ConservatumThis article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.