NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The other day, Andy Hargreaves, an analyst at Pacific Crest Securities, provided a sane reason to explain what amounts to stock market insanity when he said, in a nutshell, his firm will downgrade Apple (AAPL) stock if the company underwhelms at its Sept. 9 event. For a review of Hargreaves' sane explanation of the insane, see Laurie Kulikowski's roundup of Wall Street sentiment on AAPL.
Plainly speaking, if Apple underwhelms on the 9th (and it seems Hargreaves skews in that direction), you, according to the aforementioned firm, should sell the stock. Whatever iPhone 6 ends up being won't be enough. Same goes for the iPhone 6 upgrade cycle and ensuing 2015 lifecycle. An iWatch. Mobile payments. None of this will matter unless it adds billions of dollars of revenue to Apple's bottom line.
Others on Wall Street aren't as dour. TheStreet's Chris Ciaccia published a piece summarizing another analyst's take that the prospect of mobile payments makes AAPL shares a buy. But since nobody really knows what Apple will announce or do until Apple announces and does it, I don't want to spend time comparing and contrasting bearish and bullish takes. At the moment, the most constructive learning experience for investors (and thinking humans in general) comes from consideration of the bearish stance.
While I'm not quite as fired up about iWatch, I'm on record as saying iPhone 6 will crush Apple's own record of 51 million smartphone units sold in a quarter (Q1-2014). Just imagine if I'm correct and that happens in Q4 of this year and/or Q1 of 2015. If Apple sells 52, 55 or, who knows (?), 75 million iPhones in a quarter. Or if it does something similarly spectacular on the back of a massive smartphone consumer upgrade cycle, as well as the larger screen (and other features, such as mobile payments and, possibly a 128GB option) that will prompt many Android users to make the switch to iOS, just as so many Windows PC people have to Mac. Imagine if Apple beats the world in a big way with iPhone 6.
That, if we put any stock into what this Hargreaves character is saying, wouldn't matter with respect to the stock. Apple's past performance doesn't provide it with any street cred whatsoever to believe that whatever else comes down the pike will move the needle enough to move the stock.
That's scary. And depressing.
But, beyond that, and even worse -- what kind of sick expectations do we -- or at least the bears -- have for Apple? It has come to a point where we no longer simply hold Apple to a higher standard, we hold it to an unrealistic double standard. Because Apple is the most successful consumer products company -- steeped in technology and design -- on the planet, we expect exponentially more from it than we do from its peers. Apple must hit two or three home runs for every inside the park shot, say, Netflix (NFLX) or Pandora (P) legs out.
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