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  • U.K. Seeks to Calm Tensions With Iran After Tanker Seizure

    U.K. Seeks to Calm Tensions With Iran After Tanker Seizure(Bloomberg) -- The U.K. sought to lower tensions after Iran seized a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday, an incident that increased friction in one of the world’s critical energy chokepoints.The U.K. demanded the immediate release of the Stena Impero and on Saturday summoned Iran’s charge d’affaires, Mohsen Omidzamani, in London. While the government threatened Iran with “serious consequences” and advised U.K. ships to avoid the area, ministers on Sunday sought to dial down the rhetoric.“We need to try and de-escalate this,” Defense Minister Tobias Ellwood said in a Sky News interview. “Our first and most important responsibility is to make sure that we get a solution to the issue to do with the current ship, make sure other British-flagged ships are safe to operate in these waters and then look at the wider picture of actually having a working proper professional relationship with Iran.”On Sunday, the Iranian flag was seen flying over the bridge of the British tanker in the Bandar Abbas port, according to images aired by state-run Press TV.Tensions have been flaring in the Strait of Hormuz in recent weeks as Iran lashes out against U.S. sanctions that are crippling its oil exports and after the seizure of one of its tankers near Gibraltar. The Strait accounts for about a third of the world’s seaborne oil flows, and Brent crude rallied as much as 2.4% on Friday’s news.The U.K. plans to take further measures this week, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in a statement without giving details on what action would be taken. The Sunday Telegraph said diplomatic and economic measures, including a freeze on Iranian assets, are being considered and the U.K. may push the European Union and United Nations to reimpose sanctions on Iran. But on Sunday, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond sought to downplay that threat.“We’ve already got a wide raft of sanctions against Iran, particularly financial sanctions, so it’s not clear that there are immediate additional things that we can do but we are of course looking at all the options,” Hammond said in a BBC interview. Still, “it was an illegal act and we’re going to pursue every possible diplomatic route to resolve this issue.”Iran doesn’t have any assets that the British government could seize, according to Ali Naghi Seyyed-Khamoushi, head of the Iran-Britain Joint Chamber of Commerce in Tehran. Any sanctions would not affect Iran’s exports and imports to any great extent, he said, according Iran’s Tasnim news agency.With U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May set to leave office on Wednesday, the latest clash with Iran presents a diplomatic headache for her successor. The favorite to be named the new Conservative Party leader is Boris Johnson, and his opponent, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, on Saturday tweeted that that British shipping will be protected in the Persian Gulf.U.S. Central Command has announced a “multinational maritime effort” called Operation Sentinel to “increase surveillance of and security in key waterways in the Middle East to ensure freedom of navigation in light of recent events in the Arabian Gulf region.”Tensions between Iran and the West have been rising since U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 multi-nation agreement with Iran to limit its nuclear program. The U.S. reimposed the sanctions that had hobbled the Iranian economy and has been pressuring European allies to respect the sanctions and curtail their trade with Iran.Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said on Saturday that the ship entered the strait from the wrong direction, wasn’t paying heed to maritime regulations and could potentially have collided with other vessels. State television said the ship will be held until judicial assessments are complete.Stena Bulk, the ship’s owner, said on Sunday that a request to the authorities at the port of Bandar Abbas -- where the vessel is anchored -- to visit the 23 crew members had been acknowledged. The company hasn’t yet received a formal response.The firm said on Saturday it had been told that the crew members are in good health. It has been given no instructions about the fate of the ship.Iran has also suggested its actions are in retaliation for the British seizure of the Grace 1 tanker off Gibraltar. A court in Gibraltar ordered the continued detention of the vessel for another 30 days, after it was held on suspicion of taking oil to Syria. Iran denies that was the destination.In recent weeks the U.K. Navy has escorted some tankers out of the region, while the U.S. said it downed an Iranian drone just days ago. The latest incident cooled hopes that the U.S. and Iran would soothe tensions by entering into negotiations.In Washington, Trump said he will be “working with the U.K.” and suggested the latest developments justify his harsher approach toward Tehran. “This only goes to show what I’m saying about Iran: trouble, nothing but trouble.”(Updates with Iranian flag flying over tanker in Iran in fourth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Arsalan Shahla, Tim Ross and Bill Lehane.To contact the reporters on this story: Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.net;Alex Longley in London at alongley@bloomberg.net;Golnar Motevalli in Tehran at gmotevalli@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Lars Paulsson, James AmottFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


  • Hawking ice cream, asking bad guys to chill: Triple-digit heat sizzles across much of US

    Hawking ice cream, asking bad guys to chill: Triple-digit heat sizzles across much of USScreaming heat prompts officials to issue dire warnings, hawk ice cream and even urge criminals to stay home and binge-watch Netflix.


  • Boxers with pockets? Men's underwear gets more functional features

    Boxers with pockets? Men's underwear gets more functional featuresNew Dutch-made boxer briefs called Pockies are headed to the U.S. They have pockets, so you can keep your keys and phone handy at home or if you head out.


  • Why These Coal Giants Are Teaming Up

    Why These Coal Giants Are Teaming UpAfter working through bankruptcy court, Arch Coal and Peabody Energy are joining forces in this coal region. Here's why.


  • Retirement Savings Falling Short? Try Moving to These States

    Retirement Savings Falling Short? Try Moving to These StatesIf you haven't saved as much as you'd hoped, relocating can help make the most of every penny.


  • 7 Things You Didn't Know About NIO

    7 Things You Didn't Know About NIOThis company is charging forward in its attempt to reimagine the Chinese auto landscape.


  • UK mulls options as Iran says ship's fate depends on probe

    UK mulls options as Iran says ship's fate depends on probeIran warned Sunday that the fate of a UK-flagged tanker it seized in the Gulf depends on an investigation, as Britain said it was considering options in response to the standoff. Authorities impounded the Stena Impero with 23 crew members aboard off the port of Bandar Abbas after the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized it Friday in the highly sensitive Strait of Hormuz. Video footage released by the Guards showed a ship with the oil tanker's markings being surrounded by speedboats, before troops in balaclavas descend a rope from a helicopter onto the vessel.


  • AbbVie's Acquisitions Report Card Shows Investors Have a Reason to Worry About the Allergan Buyout

    AbbVie's Acquisitions Report Card Shows Investors Have a Reason to Worry About the Allergan BuyoutHere are AbbVie's grades on its previous acquisition deals. And they look ugly overall.


  • You Won't Believe How Complex Our Tax System Is -- Here's How to Make Sense of It

    You Won't Believe How Complex Our Tax System Is -- Here's How to Make Sense of ItGuess which is longer -- the Harry Potter series or the U.S. tax code?


  • Camel dung fuels cement production in northern UAE

    Camel dung fuels cement production in northern UAERAS AL-KHAIMAH, UAE (Reuters) - Thousands of tonnes of camel dung are being used to fuel cement production in the northern United Arab Emirates, cutting emissions and keeping animal waste out of landfill. It is then blended with coal to power the boiler at a large cement factory. "People started to laugh, believe me," said the general manager of Gulf Cement Company, Mohamed Ahmed Ali Ebrahim, describing the moment the waste management agency proposed the idea.


  • How Much Will Social Security Pay Me?

    How Much Will Social Security Pay Me?Find out how your retirement benefits are calculated.


  • ‘Send her back’ chant at Donald Trump’s rally moves race to center of 2020 contest. What does that mean for Democrats?

    ‘Send her back’ chant at Donald Trump’s rally moves race to center of 2020 contest. What does that mean for Democrats?Democrats united against Donald Trump's racist tweets. But under the surface, the party is wrestling with divisions over how to address race.


  • 'Alter your course': Dramatic audio released of Iran seizing British ship

    'Alter your course': Dramatic audio released of Iran seizing British shipAn audio recording reveals the tense moments before a British-flagged oil tanker was seized by Iranian forces rappelling to the ship's deck.


  • What's the best approach to boost your 401(k)? Active, passive or a little of both?

    What's the best approach to boost your 401(k)? Active, passive or a little of both?Everyone has an investing strategy, but the best option includes employing both active and passive management of your portfolio.


  • As AIDS conference opens in Mexico, migrants are a focus

    As AIDS conference opens in Mexico, migrants are a focusThe spread of HIV as a serious aspect of Latin America's migration crisis -- whether through Venezuelans forced to emigrate to obtain medicine or Central American migrants unaware they carry the virus -- will be a focus of the world AIDS conference opening Sunday in Mexico City. Some 6,000 scientists, physicians, activists and government officials are due to learn about the latest in treatments and research and discuss the human and social costs of AIDS and HIV. At present, no program focuses on Latin America's HIV-infected migrants, said Brenda Crabtree, a Mexican physician and AIDS specialist who is co-chairperson of the conference.


  • This $22 reflective dog leash is being hailed as a 'miracle worker' by 6,000 dog owners

    This $22 reflective dog leash is being hailed as a 'miracle worker' by 6,000 dog ownersNo many hours of puppy kindergarten classes can prepare you for what happens when you encounter another dog while walking your own.


  • Better Buy: Disney vs. Netflix

    Better Buy: Disney vs. NetflixTwo of the leading entertainment providers are moving in different directions, but that doesn't mean the stocks will continue to be passing ships.


  • Mueller report shows evidence Trump committed crimes, House Judiciary chairman says

    Mueller report shows evidence Trump committed crimes, House Judiciary chairman saysThe top Democrat on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee said Sunday he believes there is "substantial evidence" that President Donald Trump committed high crimes and misdemeanors, and he plans to ask former Special Counsel Robert Mueller to present those facts at a congressional hearing on Wednesday. Nadler's comments are significant because evidence of such crimes would be required if Democrats pursue impeachment proceedings against the president.


  • How to Figure Out Your Total Debt Balance

    How to Figure Out Your Total Debt BalanceDo you know the total amount you owe? Here's how you can figure out your total debt balance.Image source: Getty Images.


  • Morgan Stanley: 3 Surprising Stock Picks Ahead of Earnings

    Morgan Stanley: 3 Surprising Stock Picks Ahead of EarningsWe are now heading into the thick of earnings season. Crucial reports coming up this week include Facebook (FB), Alphabet (GOOGL) and Amazon (AMZN). Encouragingly, 81% of companies that have reported so far have exceeded their bottom-line estimates, according to Credit Suisse. However Morgan Stanley believes that guidance for 2H19 is too high. It expects companies to lower expectations for the second half of the year. So where does that leave investors? Luckily the firm has released a valuable report setting out its top picks this earnings season. What makes this report so unique is that the firm purposefully highlights stocks with a more bearish outlook from the rest of Wall Street. “For each of these stocks, our analyst has a view that diverges from the Street’s, and expects a near-term event to drive the stock as the market’s view moves closer to ours,” the firm told investors. Let’s take a closer look at 3 of these more controversial stock picks now: Uber Technologies Inc (UBER)Uber’s market debut was one of the biggest flops of recent years. Shares pulled back on the first day of trading from the IPO share price of $45 to just above $41. According to Renaissance Capital, the company succeeded in “having lost more cash than any IPO ever.” Even now the stock continues to hover at just $43 with shares falling 7% since the beginning of July.Morgan Stanley cites investor concerns about ‘growth durability’ and the path to profitability as the reason for Uber’s poor stock performance to date. Indeed, UBER posted an eye-watering $1 billion net loss on revenue of $3.1 billion when it reported first quarter earnings back at the end of May. However, the firm tells investors: “we like this set-up…particularly as we’re entering a 2H of easing Y/Y ride sharing growth compares, an (assumed) relatively stable competitive landscape in the US and abroad, and a still-long runway.” Indeed its analyst Brian Nowak currently has a buy rating on Uber with a price target of $56. From current levels that suggests upside potential of 27%. He isn’t concerned about rival companies, noting that Uber's share of downloads dropped modestly in the UK following Bolt's launch, but has since recovered. “This, in our view, speaks to Uber's brand and market leadership even through new entrants" says the analyst. And according to the firm, the “key to turning investor sentiment and interest” is Uber beating near-term expectations for ride-hailing bookings. That’s as the company’s last earnings revealed very strong growth for Uber Eats of 89%- but only 9% growth for its core ride-hailing department. Uber will report its earnings on August 8. Gilead Sciences Inc (GILD)Biopharma giant Gilead has so far only gained a paltry 4% year-to-date. That means the stock is primed to move higher if earnings top expectations when the company reports on July 30. Ahead of the print, Morgan Stanley is confident that the company’s HIV franchise will help drive a second-quarter revenue beat. “We are also lower on 1H spending, which in combination with higher revenues would position GILD well for a 2Q19 EPS beat,” the firm said. Indeed, Biktarvy's launch (+28% Q2/Q1) is the fastest HIV launch yet. The company’s 1Q earnings results revealed that Biktarvy generated $739MM (+34% Q/Q) in US revenue- in only its fourth full quarter on the market. “Biktarvy is the number one prescribed regimen for both treatment-naive and switch patients in the U.S; our consultants consider Biktarvy their "go-to" regimen” Cowen & Co’s Phil Nadeau revealed to investors recently. Interestingly Morgan Stanley may not be the only outlier when it comes to Gilead stock. Five-star Wells Fargo analyst Jim Birchenough has just upgraded GILD from Hold to Buy. His $88 price target indicates shares can surge by 36%.The analyst also singles out the company’s HIV offerings as behind his bullish call, writing: "We expect GILD earnings growth to reaccelerate beyond 2020 on continued HIV product growth and on incremental contribution from Galapagos-Partnership programs in fibrosis and inflammation.” PG&E Corporation (PCG)Natural gas stock PG&E may not seem like an obvious choice for Morgan Stanley. The company has had a tricky time recently- with shares currently trading down 22% since the beginning of July. At the beginning of the year PG&E announced its intention to file for protection under chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code to address multi billion-dollar claims stemming from the deadly California wildfires of 2017 and 2018. More recently the Wall Street Journal published a damning article claiming that PG&E knew for years that hundreds of miles of high-voltage power lines could fail and spark fires- but repeatedly failed to perform necessary upgrades. That allegation is now being investigated in the courts. Nonetheless Morgan Stanley believes the stock could still outperform. That’s thanks to a hearing this week that will decide whether PG&E stakeholders have a say in the company’s restructuring plans. Right now the company has an exclusive right to file a reorganization plan until September. However according to Morgan Stanley a positive ruling for Pacific Gas at the July 23 hearing could remove a key overhang for shares. Discover the latest ratings from over 5,000 analysts here


  • Should Investors Pick Amazon Into Earnings?

    Should Investors Pick Amazon Into Earnings?Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) has redefined the way consumers shop for goods. Anyone that didn’t bet on Jeff Bezos and AMZN can’t help but feel that they might have missed an opportunity. The stock is up 448% over the last five years, with share prices rising past $2,000 last week. With many analysts saying AMZN has the momentum to continue this upward trajectory, investors are wondering if they should also buy the stock before its July 25 earnings release. Q2 Earnings GuidanceIn management’s Q2 2019 guidance, they are expecting to see revenue within the range of $59.5 billion and $63.5 billion, up 12.5% to 20% year-over-year. According to consensus estimates, EPS should be $5.58, up from $5.07 from the year- ago quarter. Operating income could be between $2.6 billion to $3.6 billion, which represents a decrease in growth by 13% from the year-ago period. This means operating margin should be between 4.1% and 6.1%, falling from 7.4% in Q1.    CFO, Brian Olsavsky, points to the $800 million spent in Q2 to upgrade Prime’s free two-day shipping benefit to free one-day shipping as the reason for lower margins. “We're currently working on evolving our Prime free two-day shipping program to be a free one-day shipping program. We're able to do this because we've spent 20-plus years expanding our fulfillment and logistics network, but this is still a big investment and a lot of work to do ahead of us,” he said. Renewed Focus on ProfitabilityDespite a rocky year for AMZN share prices, the company has been shifting focus towards achieving sustained and consistent profitability. Amazon’s Prime Day is an event in and of itself rivaling that of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Last year’s Prime Day was the company’s largest shopping event in its history. Consumers bought over 100 million products, bringing in $6 billion. This almost matched the entire retail industry’s combined $6.22 billion in online sales on Black Friday.Even on low-margin business categories, AMZN has figured out a way to make a profit. The company charges grocery brands if sales from their promotional products result in a loss. It also blocks ads for unprofitable products, giving it the ability to force merchants to order from less expensive suppliers and change to more affordable packaging. Amazon Business Model is GrowingThe company is working to expand Amazon Web Services (AWS), its cloud computing platforms for individuals as well as enterprises of all sizes. On June 24, it announced that the AWS Control Tower and AWS Security Hub are now available to customers. These products simplify the process of setting up, securing and monitoring cloud environments for its corporate clients. Last year, the company announced that these new product offerings are a part of a larger effort to lower the barrier of entry for large enterprises that want to begin using the cloud. The company hopes the products will also reduce friction for existing customers that want to expand their cloud footprint.Its cloud service has been essential in AMZN’s overall profit growth. In the previous quarter, AWS made up 13% of the total revenue at approximately $7.7 billion, a 41% year-over-year jump. Half of the total operating income was attributed to AWS, increasing 59% to $2.22 billion year-over-year. The company is also growing the advertising segment of its business. On May 31, AMZN announced that it is set to acquire Sizmek’s ad server and Dynamic Creative Optimization unit. The technology will help personalize ads using data. A Fair Valuation Based on Cash Flow and GrowthWe can also look at operating cash flow to measure how well AMZN is performing, as the company is known for making heavy investments in growth opportunities. Operating cash flow reached $34.4 billion for the trailing twelve months, an 89% increase year-over-year. Free cash flow more than tripled, up to $23 billion year-over-year. While some investors may be wary of AMZN’s hefty price tag, five-star financial blogger, Bret Kenwell, argues that the valuation is justified. He writes, “Its strong earnings growth (estimates call for 35% growth this year and 40% growth in 2020) makes the valuation more palpable. Even better? AMZN has been crushing earnings estimates over the last seven quarters, while its immense cash flow buoys any financial worries from investors.”Top analyst, Scott Devitt, agrees that there’s more upside for AMZN. He maintained his Buy rating on the stock and $2,300 price target on July 19, suggesting 17% upside potential. “We expect continued strength in Amazon’s high-margin businesses, AWS and Advertising, which should continue to be a tailwind for operating margin and allow the company to invest more heavily in its retail capabilities, including one-day delivery. Amazon is well- positioned as the leader in retail/cloud, and should continue to gain share in the advertising market as it adds new tools/services, makes strategic acquisitions (Sizmek), and leverages its valuable consumer data,” he said. Devitt has a 71% success rate and 23% average return per rating. On July 18, another analyst, Tom Forte, reiterated his Buy rating and $2,550 price target. He believes share prices could soar by 30% over the next twelve months. “We see two potential catalysts for shares over the next 12-month period: 1) stronger than expected operating results from the company’s cloud computing efforts, which we believe remains the primary driver of its share price and 2) due to its increasing mix of highly-profitable third-party sales," he said. The Bottom Line on AMZNThe sentiment surrounding AMZN is resoundingly positive. The stock boasts a ‘Strong Buy’ analyst consensus and a $2,260 average price target, suggesting upside potential of 15%.


  • Israel says hosting Iraqi, Saudi journalists in first

    Israel says hosting Iraqi, Saudi journalists in firstIsrael's foreign ministry said Sunday the country will this week host six journalists from Arab countries including, for the first time, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The visit comes as Israel seeks to improve ties with Gulf Arab countries, with which it has no formal diplomatic relations. The journalists will visit Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, parliament and holy sites, among others, the foreign ministry said in a statement.


  • Is Zoom Video Communications a Buy at All-Time Highs?

    Is Zoom Video Communications a Buy at All-Time Highs?The stock is white-hot since its debut, and the future looks bright.


  • Better Buy: Scotts Miracle-Gro vs. ConocoPhillips

    Better Buy: Scotts Miracle-Gro vs. ConocoPhillipsThese two companies are hitting the accelerator on growth plans in very different markets, but the risks here may not be as they seem.


  • Why Kinder Morgan Is So Bullish on Its Future

    Why Kinder Morgan Is So Bullish on Its FutureThe company's focus on natural gas should pay big dividends in the coming years.


  • Iranians ordered tanker to change course: audio

    Iranians ordered tanker to change course: audioIranian forces ordered a British-flagged tanker in the Gulf to change course, telling the Stena Impero it would be safe "if you obey", according to a verified audio recording released Sunday. The recording of radio communications between the Stena Impero, British warship HMS Montrose and the advancing Iranian forces was obtained and released by London-based maritime security risk analysts Dryad Global, and confirmed as genuine by Britain's Ministry of Defence (MoD). Iranian forces seized the Swedish-owned tanker on Friday in what Britain says was an illegal operation in Omani waters.


  • The 1 Reason You Shouldn't Save for Retirement

    The 1 Reason You Shouldn't Save for RetirementBelieve it or not, under some circumstances, saving for retirement doesn't make sense.


  • Reliance mobile operator Jio to focus on subscriber numbers not tariffs

    Reliance mobile operator Jio to focus on subscriber numbers not tariffsIndia's Reliance Industries plans to remain focused on subscriber additions rather than chase higher tariffs for its Jio telecoms business, a top company executive said. Its strategy is aimed at prolonging the pressure on rivals such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, whose revenue and profits have plunged since the launch of Jio by Reliance boss Mukesh Ambani, India's richest man. "We have been telling you from the beginning, the priority for us today is customers," Jio's head of strategy, Anshuman Thakur, said in a news briefing late on Friday after quarterly results.


  • Baby born on 7-Eleven Day at 7:11 p.m., weighs 7 lbs., 11 oz., gets 7-Eleven college fund

    Baby born on 7-Eleven Day at 7:11 p.m., weighs 7 lbs., 11 oz., gets 7-Eleven college fundIt's stranger than fiction: A baby girl in St. Louis was born on 7-Eleven Day at 7:11 p.m., weighing 7 pounds and 11 ounces.


  • 3 Market Staples Reporting Earnings This Week

    3 Market Staples Reporting Earnings This WeekWe’re in the busiest time of earnings season, with over one-fourth of the S&P listed companies set to release quarterly reports in the coming days. Based on the S&P members that have reported so far, results are good. Total earnings are up 2.6%, and revenues are up 2.9%. While slow, this growth is better than the losses predicted before earnings got underway.Here, we look at three blue chip stocks which are reporting earnings this week. They are mainstays of investment portfolios, some are favorites of big-name investors, and all are available at a share price of $55 or less. AT&T, Inc. (T)The venerable phone company is well-known as one of the best dividend stocks on Wall Street. AT&T offers investors a 6.22% dividend yield – one of the highest among S&P-listed companies – with a current annual payout of $2.04 per share.The dividend is important because T shares show a somewhat shaky earnings future. The company took on tremendous debt last year when it acquired Time Warner; however, free cash flow since then has been sufficient to meet the dividend and the debt service. While AT&T carries $169 billion in debt, the company says that it can pay off 75% of the Time Warner purchase debt by the end of this calendar year.That will be major achievement, and investors will be looking for evidence that it is realistic. AT&T is counting on the acquisition to power its move toward content creation and distribution as it moves into the streaming landscape. The acquisition of Time Warner was intended to bring a solid content provider to T’s DirecTV segment, and boost declining subscriber numbers. On the earnings front, Wall Street expects T to show 89 cents EPS on July 24, up from 86 in the last quarter, but down 2.2% year-over-year.Looking toward T’s performance, JPMorgan analyst Philip Cusick wrote back in May that he expects a net loss of 2.9 million DirecTV subscribers in 2019 before seeing trends improve in 2020. At the same time, he expects “average revenue per remaining user to increase 3.4% this year, to $119.65.” His bottom line on the stock: “Sentiment should improve as the trajectory of sub losses improves in late 2019, but our sense is that investors are starting to look past it already—in the meantime the 6.2% dividend will continue to come through.” Cusick’s price target of $38 of suggests an upside of 15% to the T shares.Earlier this month, Citigroup’s Michael Rollins also put a buy rating on T, and bumped his price target up 8.8% to $37. His new target implies an upside of 12% to the stock.Shares in AT&T are selling for $32.79, and the stock holds a strong buy from the analyst consensus. That rating is based on 8 buys and 2 holds given in the past three months. The average price target, $36, suggests that T has room for 9% upside. Coca-Cola Company (KO)Investing guru Warren Buffett has long been a fan of Coca-Cola, both the drink and the stock. He sees the stock as a staple, bringing slow and steady profits, and paying out a reliable 3.1% dividend yield of $1.60 per share annualized. Coca-Cola bases its performance on a solid, and growing, line-up of beverage products.Heading into fiscal Q2, Coca-Cola’s stock is trading just 1.5% below its 52-week high point. The stock hasn’t always had such good times; starting in Q2 2015, the company saw revenues drop every quarter until Q4 2018. The trend has begun to reverse, however, and in Q3 2017 EPS began to grow again, while last quarter, Q1 2019, saw a revenue gain of 5.2%.More health-conscious consumers have been putting pressure on the company, as they shift away from sodas in the US domestic market. Coca-Cola has responded by diversifying its product line, to offer drinks across all segments of the beverage market. The company is already well-known for its Dasani water and Minute Maid juices; the company also owns Costa Coffee and Fuze Beverages.So far, the strategy appears to be working, and KO’s Q2 sales are expected to show an increase of 8.83%, powering a revenue jump of 12%. The expected EPS of 62 cents is 3.3% higher than the year-ago quarter, and 29% higher than Q1. The quarterly earnings are scheduled for release on July 23.Dara Mohsenian, of Morgan Stanley, keeps KO as his ‘top overweight pick,’ saying “the beverage maker offers a growth profile that is underappreciated by the Street.” He adds, “On a two-year average basis, Coca-Cola managed to improve its organic topline growth by 80 basis points in the past few quarters which is above the 70 basis point range many of its peers are showing.”In line with his upbeat outlook on KO, Mohsenian increased his price target by 3.6%, from $55 to $57, indicating confidence in the stock and an upside potential of 11%.Coca-Cola’s analyst consensus rating is a moderate buy, based on 4 buys and 5 holds set in the past three months. The average price target, $52.29, is only 1.75% higher than the current share price of $51.39. These numbers reflect the stock’s ongoing transition away from the losses of recent years and towards the upbeat outlook detailed by Mohsenian. Ford Motor Company (F)Our third pick, Ford Motor, may be the most controversial here. Like Coca-Cola, it has a mixed rating, but it also the highest potential upside, the lowest cost of entry, and the second-highest dividend yield of the stocks in this list. In addition, shares in Ford are up 33% year-to-date, far outpacing the S&P 500’s 18.5% gain.Ford maintains its position by its popular and profitable lineup of pickup trucks. The F-Series (F-150, F-250, and F-350) are consistent best-sellers, and have led the US market in automobile sales since 1986. In 2018 alone, F-Series trucks brought the company $41 billion in revenues. According to Jim Farley, Ford’s head of global markets, that sales performance makes the F-Series a more valuable brand than Coca-Cola.Ford’s management is essentially using the popular and high-margin trucks and SUVs as a cushion while the company is in the process of reducing its small-car sales and developing lines of electric and autonomous vehicles. Possession of such an asset – the F-Series brand – has helped keep Ford’s revenues mostly stable in recent quarters, with revenue volatility in the past three years holding in an 8% range.Looking forward to the Q2 earnings report, Ford’s revenues are expected to come in at $34.86 billion, a slip of 2.9% from the year-ago quarter. True to Ford’s form, Q3 guidance predicts gain of 2.7%. Q2 EPS is expected between 30 and 33 cents, a gain of 11% to 22% over last year’s Q2. EPS for FY2019 is expected at $1.38, a gain of 6.15% from FY2018.Recent analyst reviews of Ford have focused on the company’s strategic partnership with Volkswagen in developing electric and autonomous vehicles. RBC’s Joseph Spak, while keeping a hold on the stock, increased his price target by 10%, to $11, after Ford announced plans to work with VW and Argo AI developing a high volume EV in the European market. Spak says that Ford management deserves high credit for strategic thinking. His price target is 7% above Ford’s current share price.On the bull side is UBS analyst Colin Langan, who boosted his price target to $13 and put a buy rating on the stock. Looking at the European market and Ford’s initiatives in the EV segment, he says, “Given the upcoming European regulation shifts, this should help Ford avoid emission fines.” Langan’s price target suggests a 27% upside to Ford shares.Overall, Ford has a moderate buy from the analyst consensus based on an even split of 6 buys and 6 holds. Shares trade for $10.20 with an average price target of $11.77, giving the company’s stock an upside potential of 15%.


  • A Week In New York City On $18 Per Hour

    A Week In New York City  On $18 Per HourWelcome toMoney Diaries , where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.Today: a content marketing intern working in design who makes $18 per hour and spends some of her money this week on horchata.Occupation: Marketing Intern Industry: Design Age: 21 Location: New York, NY Salary: $18/hr Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $576 Gender Identity: WomanMonthly Expenses Rent: $0 (I'm a college student, and I live at home with my parents. Since we're only about an hour and a half from my school by public transit, they decided against spending on the astronomical dorm and apartment costs.) Student Loans: $0 (I'm still in school.) Wi-Fi & Cable: $126.74 (I started paying this bill about six months ago as a decision between me and my parents.) Cell Phone: $0 (I'm on my parents' plan.) Health Insurance: $0 (I'm on my parents' plan.) MetroCard: About $80 Birth Control: $15 (I get it from my school's health center — don't tell my mom.) Netflix: $3.50 (I split the monthly payment with a few other friends.) Hulu: $0 (Thanks to my boyfriend.) Spotify: $2.50 (I'm on a family plan with a few of my friends.) Savings: I have about $3,200 saved as of this month. It's from working full-time for the past two summers and part-time for two semesters. Day One6:30 a.m. — I purposefully set an alarm for 30 minutes before I actually need to wake up because hitting snooze gives me some semblance of having control over my sleep schedule. I highly recommend it. However, today is actually my first day of work at my new job, so I'm actually pretty eager to get out of bed.7 a.m. — I'm awake, but my legs aren't. I stumble ungracefully into the bathroom, pee, brush my teeth, wash my face, and put in my contacts. I notice my eyes are extremely puffy from crying last night (a lot to unpack there), but I decide not to worry too much about it.7:20 a.m. — Even if you think you're an early riser, there's always an Asian parent who beat you to it. My parents have the day off and are both sitting down at the dining table already. They've made steamed dumplings, which I pour a generous amount of Chinkiang black vinegar over, and eat about seven of them.9 a.m. — I arrive at my new office on time — no signal problems, no sick passengers, blessed. I'm a little nervous to go in at first, but my supervisor comes to meet me and shows me to my desk. They've piled it with a bunch of company merch and a welcome card. I'm not going to lie, my heart melts a little bit from the kindness of the gesture, and also because I love free things.10:30 a.m. — I spend most of the morning meeting the team, getting a tour of the office, and reading up on the company. My supervisor has given me a to-do list for the next few days, so I slowly work my way through it.1 p.m. — My supervisor takes me out to lunch, expensed. We go to a nearby café that I've never been before. I order a shrimp avocado salad, and we get fries to share. We talk about the company, career stuff, and my plans for the future. Her advice is really helpful.4:30 p.m. — The rest of the day has flown by, and I can hardly believe it's almost the end of it.6 p.m. — A twenty-minute train ride later, I arrive at my clinic for my first ever Pap smear. It has been a day of new beginnings.7:30 p.m. — I get home, shower, and have dinner with my family — my parents ask me about my day, and I try to explain what marketing is in my conversational Chinese. They nod politely.9 p.m. — My boyfriend calls me as he's getting out of work (he's on the west coast for the summer) since he's three hours behind. I catch him up on my first day and he tells me about his day.11:30 p.m. — I'm in bed! It'll probably be another hour before I fall asleep, but that's something I've accepted anyway. My head hits the pillow for some well-deserved rest.Daily Total: $0 Day Two7:15 a.m. — I'm out of bed a little later than yesterday, so I move more quickly.7:30 a.m — I make myself some earl grey tea with honey and almond milk. My parents left me some udon noodles for breakfast, so I have those and go back upstairs to change and finish getting ready.9:15 a.m — I arrive in the office and open up my to-do list for the day. My first assignment is writing out thank you notes for clients and assembling gift boxes to be shipped out.9:30 a.m. — I'm surrounded by tape, scissors, and cardboard, kneeling on the floor taping up boxes. Never have I felt more like an intern.1 p.m. — For lunch, I get a spicy Thai salad from By Chloe (comped by work). I text my friends and scroll through Twitter and Instagram.2 p.m. — My boss sends me assignments. I put the gift boxes to the side for now and get to work on what she sent me.5:15 p.m. — I find myself pretty swamped with assignments for the rest of the day– my boss gives me the okay to leave, so I head out and start walking to Chinatown, where I'm meeting a friend for dinner.6 p.m. — My friend and I catch up over Shanghainese food. We order scallion pancakes, Shanghai lo mein, cold jellyfish, and cold chicken. We split the bill evenly. $13.898:15 p.m. — I get home and hang out on the couch with my brother for a bit before going upstairs to shower. I used his Metrocard today, so I Venmo him back for two rides. $5.5010 p.m. — I text my boyfriend for a little bit before he goes to watch the new Spiderman movie. I spend the rest of the night on YouTube, and remember to take my birth control.11:30 p.m. — Time for bed! I spray my pillow and sheets with a lavender oil mist that I got from Whole Foods when I was feeling indulgent one time.Daily Total: $19.39 Day Three7 a.m. — I'm up! I feel like my body is getting used to waking up at 7 again.8:15 a.m — The 20-minute walk from my house to the subway station leaves me drenched in sweat, but today is the last day of the week before we get time off for the Fourth of July, so I'm excited about that.9 a.m. — Arrive at work and take care of some short assignments my boss gave me.10:30 a.m. — Finish filling up the boxes, then manually inputting information for 27 shipping labels to tape on the boxes. Absolutely thrilling, and I can barely contain myself.1:30 p.m. — My supervisor wants me to have a social media launch plan by our 2:30 meeting. I go into STRESS packing mode.2 p.m. — Every last box has been taped up, labeled, and is ready for shipping. I can't tell if my lower back hurts from crouching or if I generally just have very poor posture. I alternate between standing and kneeling on the floor to give my legs a break. These gift boxes are my magnum opus. I word-vomit social media campaign ideas into my notebook in preparation for my meeting in 30 minutes.3 p.m. — I raid the office kitchen for a granola bar and almonds.4 p.m. — I have my meeting with my boss, and it's pretty quick. We decide on a social media launch for the coming week and I get to work on it. She sends me a copywriting example from our marketing director, and I'm so impressed by her writing. I give myself a reminder to speak with her sometime during the summer about career stuff.5:20 p.m. — I finally muster up the courage to ask my boss if I can leave, since I'm done with my assignments. She wishes me a good Fourth of July weekend, and I'm out the door.5:45 p.m. — I meet my friends, A. and R., at R.'s apartment since we're getting tacos together. We go to my favorite taco place, Taqueria, located on St. Marks Place. I get a lengua taco, a chorizo taco, and a horchata. Chips and salsa are free. $12.786:30 p.m. — We go back to R.'s apartment and A. makes a gin and tonic, which we share. It relaxes me, and I sink into the couch, scrolling through Twitter and giggling to myself.6:55 p.m. — A. and I live in the same neighborhood, so we decide to head home together. I haven't seen him since I started working, so I catch him up on my job and how things have been going. He's currently prepping for the LSAT and has been pretty stressed, so we haven't had the chance to talk much recently. We joke about non-work-and-LSAT-related things too, because balance is important.8:30 p.m. — I arrive home and decide that I'm too lazy to shower yet, so I call my boyfriend. Since we didn't get to talk much yesterday, we talk about how the week has been going for us. I'm really proud of him, and myself, for where we are in terms of figuring out what we want to do in the future. I'm lucky to have someone who I feel like I can grow alongside, and these conversations I have with him really remind me of that.12 a.m. — I get off the phone with my boyfriend and get into bed with my phone. I alternate between scrolling through social media and texting my boyfriend for a while longer before I fall asleep at around 2 a.m.Daily Total: $12.78 Day Four10:15 a.m. — It's the Fourth of July and I don't have work, so I get to sleep in. I take my time getting out of bed, brushing my teeth, and changing into my workout clothes.10:30 a.m. — I've had a gym memberships on and off, but nowadays I find that I'm able to fit in workouts more regularly by doing them at home. I usually just do two or three workout videos at a time, one cardio and one or two strength-training.12:45 p.m. — I've showered and made myself breakfast/lunch. I eat really weird food combinations when I'm home alone, and today's consists of noodles, boiled dumplings (cut in half), and an egg cracked on top. I eat it out of the pot and season it with gochujang, soy sauce, sesame oil, and a little bit of black vinegar and it's good, I swear! While eating, I start bingeing the new season of Stranger Things.4 p.m. — We're having a family barbecue today, so I go downstairs and start prepping some skewers for later while watching Stranger Things.5:30 p.m. — My parents come home from work and more relatives show up. I help out with some more food prep, and I realize my absolute KING of an uncle brought PORK BELLY to the barbecue. There are also little toddlers running around, and they're adorable but also very draining to play with.8:30 p.m. — The sun has set, so the fireworks start. My family and I watch them from the backyard. No matter how old I get, there's still something pretty magical about the sight and sound of fireworks in the sky. I also find myself glancing over at the toddlers to see their reactions to the fireworks — the way their faces light up in awe is the cutest, most innocent thing ever.11 p.m. — The barbecue is pretty much over, and I've retreated to bed to finish where I left off on Stranger Things. It gets a little too intense for pre-bedtime (I get nightmares easily), so I decide to stop for a bit before falling asleep shortly thereafter.Daily Total: $0 Day Five10:30 a.m. — The only thing better than barbecue food is barbecue leftovers, and that's what I have for breakfast. I don't really have anything planned for the day, and I'm not really feeling like working out. I text my cousin asking if she wants to go to the mall later, since I need a new bathing suit top. She offers to come with me later.11 a.m. — It's a lazy, Stranger Things- type of morning.2 p.m¬. — My cousin comes to pick me up and drive me to the mall. A Primark opened up recently, and it's my first time going. It's the type of place where I can definitely see myself buying a ton of things I don't need, so I keep in mind that I'm here for a bathing suit top and nothing else. But I do end up buying a pumice scrubber for my feet, because who's trying to show up at the beach with crusty heels, especially during hotgirlsummer?? My cousin buys a sun hat and nail polish, but I ask if she can pay for my scrubber with her stuff, because the shame of going up to the cashier with my single item being a foot scrubber is too much. $1.503:30 p.m. — At Hollister, I finally find the right bikini top. (Is there anything more annoying to buy than swimwear?) It was originally $28.79, but I get it on sale for $17.37. $17.376:30 p.m. — I have dinner with my family and talk to my brother about his new job. It's his first time working retail, and lately he's been coming home exhausted from his eight-hour shifts. I'm worried about his physical and mental state, but he says that he can handle it, and hopefully he won't have to work as many days once the holiday weekend is over.9 p.m. — My boyfriend's sister is arriving in town tonight, and I ask her if she wants to go to brunch tomorrow. The pressure is on for me to find something solid, because for some reason I decided to tell her that “I know some really good brunch places,” even though I've been to brunch maybe four, five times in my life. I start Yelp-ing and researching a good spot for us to go tomorrow and decide on Café Mogador.10 p.m. — I'm not sure what I spent the last three hours doing between dinner and now, but it probably involved some YouTube and texting my friends and boyfriend. I'm super tired despite not having had too busy of a day, and I knock out in the middle of an ASMR henna tattoo drawing video.Daily Total: $18.87 Day Six5:45 a.m. — My alarm goes off for my 8 a.m. driving lesson, my first one ever. For some reason, even as I try to go back to sleep (30 more minutes), I feel a weird sense of heaviness and anxiety in my chest. This doesn't happen much anymore, but when it does, it always feels the same, and it's almost always in the morning.7:50 a.m. — I arrive at the driving school to wait for my instructor. He goes through the process of telling me where everything is, and teaches me how to start the car and pull out. Midway through, he switches seats with me and I'm behind the wheel for the first time ever. Maybe I'm too tired to be nervous, but I think I do pretty well for my first lesson. We spend the next hour and a half driving through the residential area, while I practice my left turns, right turns, and stops.10:15 a.m. — I get home and decide that I need to nap. Twenty minutes later, I drag myself out of bed and do a workout.2:45 p.m. — I'm running a little late because the trains were running local (love when that happens) and I meet my boyfriend's sister outside the restaurant. I apologize for being late, but luckily, she doesn't seem very bothered by it. I'm relieved because some of my morning anxiety carried over into the train ride, and I was worried about bringing any negativity to the meeting. We have good, easy conversation and my anxiety gradually melts away. We order the same thing, poached eggs in tomato sauce, which comes with pita and home fries, and a mimosa each. It's good food, but I wouldn't say it's super filling. Including tip, it comes out to just over $20, which is probably why I've only ever gotten brunch four times. $22.873:30 p.m. — We walk to a café where my friend works. He graciously comps us for two iced lattes and I sit and talk with my boyfriend's sister until about 5:40, when I start to head out to midtown to celebrate my friend V.'s 21st birthday with her.6 p.m. — I meet my friends in front of the Presbyterian church on 5th Ave, and we start walking together toward the Peninsula Hotel. When we get to the rooftop bar, Salon de Ning, we're told that there currently isn't any outdoor seating at the moment, and to wait and order drinks at the bar. We decide to just stand on the terrace and take in the view, but I'm getting worried because the skies are pretty overcast. Sure enough, the waiter tells us that they might close the rooftop soon because of the rain. We cut our losses and make our way downstairs to use their bathroom instead. (It's a really nice bathroom, okay.)7 p.m. — After being denied entry to the 230 Fifth Avenue rooftop bar (one of our friends isn't 21), V. decides that we should head over to Eataly instead. I order a pesto pasta, and my friends get cacio e pepe. We all agree that pasta was the best decision of the night. And it stopped raining. $198:30 p.m. — We get a text from a friend who's hosting a party on a nearby rooftop. It's only a short walk away, so we take our time eating and waiting on an unnecessarily long line for gelato. I love us. $5.339 p.m. — We arrive at the rooftop, and I have to admit, it has a pretty amazing view, especially since it's nighttime. I've lived here my whole life, and yet there's still perspectives from which I've never seen the city before, and I wonder how many others there are yet to see.10:30 p.m. — I'm one game of beer pong in and my social battery is close to depletion. Luckily, it's not too big of a party, but I'm about ready to go pretty soon. My friends agree, and we decide to head out in a bit. It takes V. about another thirty minutes to say goodbye to everyone, and then we start to make our way back down to the lobby.10:45 p.m. — V. and I both live in south Brooklyn, albeit on opposite ends. I decide to take the train with her back to her neighborhood, since I don't want to take the subway alone. I figure I can just Uber from her stop back home. We're both pretty sleepy on the train ride, but manage to squeeze in one last heart to heart conversation. Late night subway heart to hearts = priceless.12 a.m. — We arrive at V.'s train stop. She tries finding me an Uber on her phone, but there aren't any cars in the area. Who would've thought that traveling from one end of south Brooklyn to another at midnight wouldn't be a very popular route?? Luckily, I'm able to get a Lyft, and I part ways with V. after she swears to me several times that she's fine to walk home by herself.12:25 a.m. — I arrive home, shower, and promptly get into bed. I tip the Lyft driver because without him, I'm not sure how I would've gotten home. $16.11Daily Total: $63.31 Day Seven10 a.m. — I wake up to the sound of my mom's voice telling me to get up, because we're meeting our family friends for dim sum. I get out of bed for dim sum. I'd do anything for dim sum.11:30 a.m. — I spend some time reading before we head out and use the time alone to collect my thoughts from the busyness of yesterday.12:30 p.m. — It's about a 30-minute wait for seating, but it's worth it. We order barbecue pork buns, har gow, chicken feet, fried pumpkin cakes, a flaky durian pastry, and steamed rice rolls.4:30 p.m. — I have my second driving lesson, and today I learn how to pull over and parallel park. Correction: I attempt to learn to parallel park.6:30 p.m. — I get home and have dinner with my family, but I'm feeling a combination of dehydrated, irritated, and antsy. Is it the Sunday scaries? Imposter syndrome? Or just mild food poisoning? It's hard to say. I go upstairs to use my laptop and try to wait for the feeling to pass.10 p.m. — The feeling still hasn't passed, so I decide to work on something that will keep my hands busy, and hopefully my mind as well. I cropped a polo that my dad gave me a few days ago, so I work on hemming the bottom so the edges don't curl up in the wash. It takes a while since I'm doing it by hand, but the combination of working in the tiny stitches and having YouTube playing in the background does help to relax me.11:30 p.m. — I decide to call it a night, since I'm back at work tomorrow. I remind myself that a shitty day doesn't equal a shitty life, and then I'm asleep.Daily Total: $0Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here.Do you have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Submit it with us here.Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here: r29.co/mdfaqsLike what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?A Week In Anchorage, AK, On A $38,000 SalaryA Week In Beverly Hills, CA, On A $43,200 SalaryA Week In Northern Michigan On A $115,000 Joint Income


  • Apple Upgraded Ahead of Earnings

    Apple Upgraded Ahead of EarningsEarnings season is in full swing, and Wall Street’s top analysts are getting busy re-evaluating stocks ahead of the quarterly releases. Apple, Inc. (AAPL) is one of these, having just received an upgrade from Raymond James. This upgrade comes in the face of mixed expectations on earnings and the business outlook; and so now let’s take a closer analysis of the tug-of-war between the bears and bulls on AAPL. The Earnings SituationApple-watchers know what to expect in the two key bottom-line numbers – revenues are expected to come in at $53.4 billion, about the same as last year’s Q3, while EPS is projected at $2.10, a 10% drop from a year ago. Apple’s Services segment showed 16% growth last quarter, and is expected to show further growth for fiscal Q3. Apple has been pushing hard to promote established offerings like App Store, iCloud, and Apple Music, while building expectations on new products like Apple Card, Apple TV+, and Apple Arcade.The full-court press on Services is part of Apple’s strategy to offset slowing iPhone sales.  The flagship mobile device has been buffeted by a series of demand hits in the past year or so, including: customer complaints about slow modems; the drawn-out legal battle of Qualcomm, Inc. (QCOM), over modem chips, that was only resolved this past spring; multiple issues in China, including increased competition from Chinese handset makers and the simmering US-Chinese trade tensions.While iPhone made up 63% of Apple’s revenue in the last quarter, management knows that its iconic product is on a downswing and is taking action. In addition to pushing Services, the company is streamlining and promoting its iMac, iPad, and Wearables lines. As CEO Tim Cook said back in January, “If you sort of back up and look at Apple, in our last fiscal year, we had $100 billion of revenue that was not iPhone... And in this last quarter, if you take everything outside of iPhone, it grew at 19 percent.”The main questions for Apple investors approaching the Q3 earnings are, will the boost to non-iPhone revenue streams increase quickly enough to effectively counter the slip in handset sales; and, can iPhone recover sufficiently to hold its market share niche in a maturing smartphone environment? The answers to those questions, especially the second, brings us to the analyst reviews and Apple’s recent upgrade. First, the Bear CasesIn recent days, the analysts have been pulling both ways on AAPL. The bearish case is set forth by Nomura’s Jeffrey Kvaal and Goldman Sachs’ Rod Hall. Looking at the just-finished June quarter, Kvaal says to have “low expectations for the impending iPhone cycle and do not expect Apple's new services to add materially to earnings. However, the company's ecosystem and buyback program remain strong.”Hall takes a similar view, saying that Services boosts in the spring were derived mainly from two successful game launches in China. He writes, “We believe that increased growth in App Store revenues in March/April/May was likely driven by the launches of Perfect World and Game for Peace (PUBG)… we calculate that the persistence of weaker June growth in the September FQ4 would drive another 1.1pp of downside to our Services growth estimate.”While both of these analysts are bearish on AAPL, both have also raised their price targets on the stock. Kvaal sets his at $180, Hall at $187. Both are well below the current trading price. Checking in with the BullsThe bullish news this week for Apple is the ratings upgrade from Raymond James.  Analyst Chris Caso took a forward-looking stance on the stock, basing his upgrade not on this year’s performance but on “the impact of a 5G iPhone product cycle in 2020.”He sees Apple gaining materially from its recent settlement with Qualcomm. While the settlement included a lump-sum payment from Apple to the chipmaker, it also resolved the patent dispute and allowed Apple access to Qualcomm’s high-quality modem chips.  During the course of the dispute, Apple had fallen back on Intel Corporation’s (INTC) chips, and customers had noticed – and complained about – the difference. It’s a hazard of building a niche on a devoted fan base.Expanding on this in his note, Caso said: “Our call may well be early – we expect this year’s iPhone cycle to be the weakest in years, and today may not be the right time to buy ahead of that weakness… But since the near-term market moves are being driven by macro conditions as much as fundamentals, we’ve decided to upgrade now and let our clients decide the best time to execute on our idea.”In line with this general optimism on Apple’s longer-term outlook, Caso upgraded his rating to ‘buy’ and set a $250 price target. His price target, significantly higher than other analysts’, suggests an upside potential of 23% for AAPL shares.Caso is not alone in taking the bull stance on AAPL. Merrill Lynch’s Wamsi Mohan has long maintained a buy rating on the stock, and recently reiterated it, along with this $230 price target. He based his rating on third part sales data showing “F3Q19 App Store revenue is ~$3.9bn (+18% y/y). This represents a slight acceleration from F2Q growth of 17%.” Mohan’s price target is indicative of a 13% upside.Five-star blogger D.M. Martins Research also sees long-term positive trends ahead for Apple. Laying out a detailed bull case, the blogger concludes: “I believe AAPL continues to be a solid investment. In fact, I have recently called it ‘my FAAMG stock for the rest of 2019.’ Justifying my optimism is the company's long-term prospects, which I believe to be promising yet discounted for short-term worries over trade policy and global economic deceleration.“More specifically, I see in the more stable and predictable services revenue growth and the success of new device form factors, including the Watch and other wearable products…” The Bottom LineApple has shown strong growth in the past year, with the 29% share price gains outpacing both the NASDAQ and S&P 500 indexes, but the company has faced dangerous headwinds, too. To a large extent, Apple management has been able to manage the expectations over the past six months, lower the bar, and then beat the lowered expectations, but that strategy may be running its course.The result, as seen above, is mixed reviews. Respected analysts are lining up on both the bull and bear sides for this stock, and there are strong cases made in both directions. The analyst consensus, however, remains bullish on Apple. AAPL shares get a moderate buy rating, based on 20 buys, 14 holds, and 2 sells assigned in the past three months. Shares are trading for $202, so the $215 average price target implies a 6.36% upside potential.Disclosure: This author is long on AAPL.


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