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I consider myself an early adopter of technology, and when it comes to Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), I'd say I'm borderline obsessive. In fact, my obsession goes back to the early 1980s, when I first laid my hands on my Apple II home computer.
But it isn't just about having the latest and greatest. Owning and testing Apple's newest products helps me to keep tabs on the world's largest company.
This obsession with Apple and its stock is shared by millions of consumers and investors. At the start of 2016, there were more than 1 billion Apple devices in active use around the world, and AAPL is one of the most heavily traded stocks in the world.
Apple's cult-like popularity, unique products and sheer size make it a target for pundits, fanatics and haters alike. For the past year or so, it's been the haters who've controlled the stock.
The bears' major argument is that Apple will struggle to grow in the future because it is a one-trick pony that lacks innovation now that Steve Jobs is gone. And it's true that two-thirds of Apple's revenue came solely from the iPhone in 2015, while new products have been slow to develop.
But the haters have succeeded in lowering expectations for Apple to the point of mediocrity. Currently, analysts are looking for earnings to decline 10.6% for fiscal 2016 (ended in September) on a 7.8% drop in revenue.
My research shows Apple could easily surpass expectations when it reports in late October, causing shares to move back toward the $130 mark.
The Most Popular-Yet-Underrated Name in Tech
With the exception of the original iPhone, I've purchased every single iPhone in its first week of release. While you'd never find me camping out in front of an Apple store to get one, I will call dozens of stores to find one that has an iPhone available. And I have always been able to snag a new iPhone within days of its release... until now.
After calls to more than 60 stores, I was unable to find one with the iPhone 7 in stock. Most stores had either sold out or were committed to filling pre-orders and told me I would have to wait weeks to months to get a phone.
Just four days after pre-sales began, Sprint (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile (NASDAQ: TMUS) said they were experiencing record-breaking demand for the new smartphone with nearly four times the pre-orders seen for both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S models.
It was no secret that a new model, especially a two-year refresh, would be met with strong demand. So, the fact that stores everywhere sold out probably indicates unusually high sales, which can only be bullish for AAPL.
Despite reports that the latest iPhone is selling at a record pace, some analysts seem to be discounting this data because, for the first time in its history, Apple decided not to release first-weekend sales figures. The decision to withhold these numbers, which was made more than a month ago, angered the media and analysts, who thrive on hype.
But CEO Tim Cook is making an effort to get away from the hysteria surrounding initial iPhone sales so his company can be measured in a more normal fashion at earnings time.
From where I sit, it looks like Cook is attempting to shake out all the traders who obsess over every tiny detail -- the ones who buy and sell the short-term hype -- and attract investors who see just how strong Apple's long-term position really is.
In the chart below, you can see a multitude of quarters where iPhone sales dropped from the previous quarter. In fact, there are many instances where we saw several quarters of negative growth before sales again turned higher. But the long-term trend is clear: iPhone sales are increasing.
Shares are down 15% from last summer's highs and trade at just 13 times forward earnings -- a 40% discount to the S&P 500. With earnings expectations forecasting the worst growth in years, the bar has been set extremely low, increasing the odds of a beat that could send AAPL soaring.
Based on my models and analysis, Apple will surprise investors when it reports in late October. I also think fiscal 2017 EPS estimates will be revised closer to $9.25, giving Apple a fair value of $129.50 based on its 10-year average P/E ratio of 14.
That target is about 15% above the current price, and you could certainly go out and buy shares now. But while I am confident Apple will beat expectations in October, there are a lot of outside variables that could negatively impact the stock.
This overstretched market is due for a correction and a number of uncertainties are hanging over investors' heads, including an interest rate hike by the Fed and the upcoming election.
But what if I told you that you could make the same percentage gain even if Apple's share price stays exactly where it is?
In fact, the stock could drop as much as 3% from its current price and you'd still make a 15% return. What's more, you'll only risk a fraction of the amount it would cost to buy the shares.
Specifically, last week I told members of my Insider's Club about a way they could risk less than $800 and all they needed to book a 15% profit is for AAPL to be above $110 -- a key support level -- on Dec. 16.
It probably sounds too good to be true, but this is a legit trading opportunity and there is still time to get in. I will warn you that it takes a bit more work than simply buying the shares, but it is well worth the effort.
If you're interested in finding out how it works and how to get your hands on the specific trade details, follow this link.
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