This Kind of Apple Business Reporting Drives Me Crazy

In The Motley Fool’s funhouse mirror, “slight” becomes “slashed.”

I did a double-take last night when I read this headline in The Motley Fool:

“Here’s Why This Analyst Just Slashed His Apple Inc. Stock Price Target”

Really? Slashed? I have the analyst’s report right here.

While it’s true that Pacific Crest’s Andy Hargreaves lowered his price target 3.8%, to $127 from $132, that’s a relatively modest cut compared with the cleaver his colleagues took to their targets after the last quarterly report. From my Jan. 28 Apple price target round-up:

FBN’s Shebly Seyrafi: -30%
Deutsche Bank’s Sherry Schriber: -16%
Stifel Nicholaus’ Aaron Rakers: -14%
Average cut: -10%.

So where did The Motley Fool get “slashed”?

Out of thin air.

If the author, Ashraf Eassa, had actually read the analyst’s report (“Demand Appears Stable but Soft”) rather than the Barron’s account of it, he would have known that Hargreaves’ tone couldn’t have been gentler.

“Valuation and customer stickiness continue to make AAPL attractive,” he wrote. “We continue to recommend owning AAPL. The stock currently trades at 5.0x forward EV/EBITDA, which we believe undervalues the stickiness of the customer base and the likelihood for sustainable, albeit modest, iPhone unit growth. The slight reduction to our estimates drives our price target to $127 from $132 based on 6.5x forward EV/EBITDA.”

See that? “Slight reduction”?

In fact, Hargreaves uses the word “slight” and “slightly” eight times in the space of four pages. Of course, you’d have to read the report to know that.

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