One downgrade and suddenly there’s an outbreak of Apple Sells on Bloomberg’s terminals.
From Ryan Vlastelica’s “Wall Street Hasn’t Been This Pessimistic on Apple in Decades” posted after the close Monday:
Rosenblatt Securities downgraded the company to sell on Monday, bringing the total number of bearish analysts up to five, among the 57 ratings tracked by Bloomberg. Five is the highest number of sell ratings the iPhone maker has had since at least 1997, according to historical data compiled by Bloomberg. To put that into context, Apple wouldn’t release its iMac computer until August 1998, and the iconic iPod wouldn’t debut until October 2001.
My take: Something doesn’t smell right here. I track the same pool of analysts and I’ve seen them considerably more sour on Apple than they are today. Take for example, last January. We had one downgrade Monday. We had three downgrades and 19 lowered price targets on Jan. 3, when Apple crashed to $142. “Talk about calling a bottom… on the wrong side of the trade!” says Financial Alchemist‘s Turley Muller.
The claim of the “highest number of sell ratings since 1997” is even more bizarre. According to Muller:
In the 2000’s, pre-iPhone leading back to when the company was coughing in the rug, I bet AAPL maybe had 20 ratings. And back then no analyst put a Sell rating on a stock. Never.
Hoping to reconcile Bloomberg’s reporting with Muller’s and mine, I showed Vlastelica my spreadsheet (scroll below). Could I please see his? His reply:
The data was sourced off the Bloomberg terminal. Unfortunately we’re not able to share proprietary data to non-subscribers. Thanks for reaching out.
I’d also like to know where Bloomberg found 57 Apple analysts. I track a couple dozen. Reuters has maybe 35. If you have access to Bloomberg’s list, do me a solid and send it my way: [email protected]
BINGO! See Update below.
Without clarification or correction, Bloomberg’s report has taken on a life of its own. It’s was cited Tuesday morning in support of “Why Wall Street analysts say you should dump your Apple stock” a Cult of Mac headline turned one analyst (Rosenblatt’s Jun Zhang) into many.
UPDATE: Bloomberg’s list below (pasted together from 3 screen shots taken by a FOB). Extraordinary claims (like “Five is the highest number of sell ratings the iPhone maker has had since at least 1997”) require extraordinary evidence. Three problems:
- We have no data from 1997 or any year between then and now
- Even including four blacked-out entries, I count 50 firms, not 57, and that includes five firms that haven’t updated their Apple rating or price target in more than a year.
- To get to 5 sell ratings, Vlastelica has included one of the blacked-out companies (M Science LLC) and a Hong Kong-based research outfit (Altheia Capital) whose 19-person firm includes two machine learning specialists. I’d like to know more about them. Although HSBC’s rating was technically “Reduce,” not “Sell,” I’ll give it to Vlastelica. Giant HSBC’s thumbs down on Apple may be only one among these five that means anything.
Click to enlarge.