Apple lower on Barclays downgrade. Tesla's Musk confirms talks.

Barclays' Ben Reitzes, a staunch Apple (AAPL -1%) bull for years, has downgraded shares to Equalweight, albeit while maintaining his $570 PT.

Reitzes thinks Apple will be in a trading range for the next year due to a maturing smartphone market and the margin impact of adding new iPhone features such as "sapphire glass, curved glass, and new batteries."

He also compares Apple's current valuation to Microsoft's from 2000-2010, and argues there's "no precedent that large-size tech companies simply start to broadly outperform again after a tough year or two if the law of large numbers is catching up to them and margins have peaked."

Meanwhile, Tesla (TSLA +8.2%) founder/CEO Elon Musk has confirmed a recent report that he met with Apple's management, but declines to comment on whether "any kind of acquisition" was discussed.

The San Francisco Chronicle recently reported Musk met with Apple M&A chief Adrian Perica and "probably" Tim Cook last April. It's worth noting Tesla shares traded at a fraction of current levels at the time; the EV maker's current market cap is $26B.

Many observers have drawn comparisons between Apple and Tesla in the past. An Apple board member has claimed Steve Jobs dreamed of designing an iCar.

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Comments (57)
  • edwardbee
    , contributor
    Comments (45) | Send Message
    "An Apple board member has claimed Steve Jobs dreamed of designing an iCar."


    That's very interesting.
    20 Feb 2014, 10:23 AM Reply Like
  • pat45
    , contributor
    Comments (470) | Send Message
    BEN Recites please go buy Tesla and leave apple to itself. I bot tiny amount at 530. Now we know why apple was down yest and today, I am sure the big boys knew he was writing this.
    20 Feb 2014, 12:37 PM Reply Like
  • milehr
    , contributor
    Comments (698) | Send Message
    Irrelevant. I am surprised that markets still react to analysts' changing "opinions" on AAPL. As to Tesla, I doubt the meeting was about acquisition. Auto is a big market for Apple, so why would they want to own any particular car brand? Unless if was Musk, who wanted to buy Apple:-)
    20 Feb 2014, 10:27 AM Reply Like
  • sksushanth1
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
    Looks like Apple is looking for a new CEO who's like Jobs..:)
    20 Feb 2014, 02:56 PM Reply Like
  • Azazello
    , contributor
    Comments (1780) | Send Message
    what? I am trying to wrap my head around the FIRST comment of this poster...
    why is the unprovoked hostility?


    oh, sorry
    22 Feb 2014, 01:02 PM Reply Like
  • Jack Baker
    , contributor
    Comments (1465) | Send Message
    It's astonishing to me that sell-side analysts still can impact stock prices. These people have proven themselves to be unworthy of such influence time and time again. And, this guy's thesis is laughable. The iphone 6 will be the biggest product release in Apples history. And that is before a possible iwatch that some have modeled incremental revenues of 17-20 billion.
    20 Feb 2014, 10:29 AM Reply Like
  • hko2012
    , contributor
    Comments (752) | Send Message
    On the other hand, it might be Apple's biggest failure ever
    20 Feb 2014, 12:13 PM Reply Like
  • chopchop0
    , contributor
    Comments (5341) | Send Message
    "The iphone 6 will be the biggest product release in Apples history."


    That was what was said about the IPhone 5 because the screen size went from 3.5" to 4" and it finally brought 4G to the IPhone (you know, a year after android devices had it).


    The stock was bid up to $700 in anticipation of the IPhone 5 and we all know what happened after wards.
    20 Feb 2014, 01:50 PM Reply Like
  • bgold1955
    , contributor
    Comments (2357) | Send Message
    The 5 sold better than the 4s, & the 5s sold better than the 5. Also the 3GS sold better than the 3, the 4 sold better than 3GS, and the 4s sold better than the 4. I like the trend.


    In terms of the stock price, time will tell. Chop weren't you bearish in the $380's? We all know what happened after that.
    20 Feb 2014, 03:07 PM Reply Like
  • chopchop0
    , contributor
    Comments (5341) | Send Message
    Chop weren't you bearish in the $380's? We all know what happened after that.


    I actually picked some up there and dumped around $500. AAPL is a trade, not an investment ;)
    20 Feb 2014, 04:00 PM Reply Like
  • Azazello
    , contributor
    Comments (1780) | Send Message
    readers of this board vote with their clicks: be the judge and witness yourself!
    Jack Baker tallied with hko2012...
    'nuf said.
    22 Feb 2014, 12:59 PM Reply Like
  • owens7301
    , contributor
    Comments (145) | Send Message
    You must admit that if we just give ourselves some room to imagine what "could be" with an APPL/TSLA joint venture or merger. Battery powered cars/sports cars loaded with Apple software, Sirius/ITunes, integrated phone systems with the sound system, IWatch with info displays to the dash, etc. Wow, what a dream and this is before cocktails! Not too much of a stretch it would seem and only $26B market cap for TSLA with APPL sitting on $150B in the bank and good cash flow coming without TSLA. Perfect storm. You just have to own it in case Mark Zuckenberg gets another idea over coffee and lunch.
    20 Feb 2014, 10:39 AM Reply Like
  • jmjjmj1
    , contributor
    Comments (183) | Send Message
    tell me then Batman why wouldn't AAPL have done this when TSLA was $40, which by the way was when this meeting took place. Rehashing old stories on an overbloated car company, great car horrible overvaluation.
    20 Feb 2014, 10:45 AM Reply Like
  • dajhilton
    , contributor
    Comments (205) | Send Message
    Who do you think has been buying all the Tesla shares and generating their 400% value spike the past 12 months? Perhaps someone with $150 billion in 'cash and marketable securities', who is headquarted just down the road from Cupertino. What better use for Apple's billions abroad than buying and holding Tesla shares?
    20 Feb 2014, 11:59 AM Reply Like
    , contributor
    Comments (404) | Send Message
    Let me get this straight.Good old analyst Ben has been a bull for years as the stock dropped from 704 to 385.Now he's bearish.I love analysts.They're the best reverse indicators that we have as investors.Let the trading range begin big Ben.Meanwhile the dividend will be raised and the buyback enhanced(although not to Icahn's liking).Annual meeting next week.
    20 Feb 2014, 10:51 AM Reply Like
  • jjkiam
    , contributor
    Comments (415) | Send Message
    Basically it all boils down to whether Apple as a company is now only capable of iterative incremental updates to it's already existing product lines or whether the disruptive culture innovation still exists. This analyst has clearly decided that the former is true. I am long Apple on belief in the latter. I also can't imagine why TC would choose to defend the stock so aggressively if he knows that Apple's only weapon to show growth is the buyback. If that was true then it would make more sense to have allowed the shares to fall to the mid to low 400's. I think TC really believe he got a CHEAP price for those shares. This will all play out in the next 6 months one way or the other. One last point if Mr Reitzes thesis is correct then his TP makes absolutely no sense because if Apple just keeps on doing what is has already been doing then the stock is going to go down to the low 400's regardless of any buybacks
    20 Feb 2014, 10:54 AM Reply Like
  • aardvark3
    , contributor
    Comments (690) | Send Message
    NOISE. Silly noise.
    20 Feb 2014, 10:58 AM Reply Like
  • chabig
    , contributor
    Comments (656) | Send Message
    "... if the law of large numbers is catching up to them and margins have peaked."


    He's basing his opinion on something that doesn't exist (law of large numbers?) and something that he doesn't know yet (whether margins have peaked). Hint...even if they have peaked, they're still higher than everyone else's. They don't need to go higher for AAPL to remain a solid investment.
    20 Feb 2014, 11:07 AM Reply Like
  • David RG
    , contributor
    Comments (2962) | Send Message
    Well margins have been declining for several years now, so it wasn't that bold a statement.
    20 Feb 2014, 11:24 AM Reply Like
  • pocohonta
    , contributor
    Comments (662) | Send Message
    Oh no... the misuse of the term "law of large number" by a Barclay analyst? back to statistics 101 !!


    this law has to do with sample size..... when you flip a coin large number of times, you'll get 50% chance of getting head (or tail).


    Yes, what he meant was that a large company having to sell more stuff to get the same percentage increase, But, there's no law against a big company making more and more money. If there is, that'll be the end of capitalism as we know it.
    20 Feb 2014, 12:18 PM Reply Like
  • David RG
    , contributor
    Comments (2962) | Send Message
    Actually there is a law. A company cannot grow faster than the economy into perpetuity or it would be larger than the entire economy itself. Impossible.


    Growth rates do eventually have to come down.
    20 Feb 2014, 12:31 PM Reply Like
  • sruizmier
    , contributor
    Comments (2) | Send Message
    First of all, what you say is true (now a law, just common sense), but Ok, so try to apply your comment to this situation.
    The estimated GWP (Gross World Product) is about 80 trillion USD for 2013, Apple reported 170 billion USD for 2013. That means that Apple accounts for 0.21% of the world economy. Exactly how long would you say it will take Apple to get into trouble? why?
    20 Feb 2014, 01:16 PM Reply Like
  • David RG
    , contributor
    Comments (2962) | Send Message
    I would say it is here:


    2011 - 65% growth in revenues
    2012 - 45%
    2013 - 9%
    Q1 2014 - 6%
    Q2 guidance - 0%


    See a trend?
    20 Feb 2014, 04:32 PM Reply Like
  • rcpatrick5443
    , contributor
    Comments (909) | Send Message
    The theory Reitzes espouses in citing, "no precedent that large-size tech companies simply start to broadly outperform again after a tough year or two if the law of large numbers is catching up to them and margins have peaked" mistakenly assumes that something will not happen because (if his statement is factual) it has not happened before. The statement is also unreliable because it presumes that Apple's margins have peaked. Anyone following stocks is familiar with multiple peaks -- each of which seems distinctive, yet after five or so years, individual "peaks" can look much less significant. Nobody I know of accurately predicted Apple's initial ascent or its ups and downs for the past 18 months. The tech world is changing so fast and profoundly that it seems silly to make broad statements about what can or will happen.
    20 Feb 2014, 11:08 AM Reply Like
  • name999
    , contributor
    Comments (199) | Send Message
    Can we take the downgrade from Barclays as a signal that they want to accumulate more shares before the price goes up?


    I am anticipating another downgrade from Goldman Sachs to confirm the Buy signal.
    20 Feb 2014, 11:15 AM Reply Like
  • leisrv
    , contributor
    Comments (4) | Send Message
    Would like to say to Quoth the Raven, thank you for the trade strategy you wrote prior to TSLA earnings. Am still learning and I profited from your sharing.
    Thanks again.
    20 Feb 2014, 11:48 AM Reply Like
  • Good John Fagin
    , contributor
    Comments (3) | Send Message
    Whenever you see an allusion to "the law of large numbers" in an Apple critique, you can be fairly sure you are dealing with a moron.
    The law of large numbers, first enunciated by the Bernoulli boys, simply states that random events, taken in sufficiently "large numbers", approach an average frequency. If you throw heads five times in a row, you will certainly not throw heads five hundred times in a row.
    This has nothing to do with the price of stocks.
    For those not convinced arguments but believe in facts, check out the price of Berkshire Hathaway A's which are selling for three hundred times the price of Apple.
    Got that Mr. Reitzes?


    Good John Fagin
    20 Feb 2014, 11:48 AM Reply Like
  • David RG
    , contributor
    Comments (2962) | Send Message


    The law of large numbers in finance states that as a company grows large, its chances of sustaining that growth are diminished. He is talking about revenue growth, not the absolute share price. This is actually playing out already with Apple as revenue growth has slowed from high double digits to 9% last year, 6% last quarter, and guidance for 0% this quarter.


    As for your Berkshire comment, they have a market cap of 280 billion, far below that of Apple. Just fewer shares o/s.

    20 Feb 2014, 12:14 PM Reply Like
  • sruizmier
    , contributor
    Comments (2) | Send Message
    Suggestion. For Investors this "law" should be called "Law of Large Market Capitalization".


    Why go around using a term that already as a very specific meaning and that has been in use since 1837.
    20 Feb 2014, 01:37 PM Reply Like
  • the pedestrian
    , contributor
    Comments (117) | Send Message
    The law applies to the co-efficient of the parameters. Add a new parameter such as a product and service for video or transportation and the law will have to reset. It does not apply to derivatives, such as growth.
    20 Feb 2014, 06:11 PM Reply Like
  • fredbrooklyn
    , contributor
    Comments (167) | Send Message
    Retail investors are always looking for any possible justification to lose money. Guys like Reitzes help them on their quest. Just unfortunate noise.
    20 Feb 2014, 11:51 AM Reply Like
  • GreenW
    , contributor
    Comments (3) | Send Message
    So his target is at 570. The trading range should be about 510 - 570. I'm going to try buying at around 510, selling at around 570 through out the year. See if he's right.
    20 Feb 2014, 11:57 AM Reply Like
  • Transcripts&10-K's
    , contributor
    Comments (1224) | Send Message
    "He also compares Apple's current valuation to Microsoft's from 2000-2010"


    Ah yes, when I think of Apple trading at ~12X earnings, it always brings back memories of when MSFT, CSCO, and others were trading north of 50X earnings...
    20 Feb 2014, 12:08 PM Reply Like
  • Jack Staub
    , contributor
    Comments (100) | Send Message
    As long as APPL is buying back shares longs should want a lower share price.
    20 Feb 2014, 12:09 PM Reply Like
  • Ashraf Eassa
    , contributor
    Comments (9741) | Send Message
    LOL, you realize how silly that sounds, right? Are you in $AAPL to make money, or do you want Apple to be buying back shares to artificially boost EPS so that senior management can get their big bonuses?
    20 Feb 2014, 02:26 PM Reply Like
  • Illuminati Investments
    , contributor
    Comments (9788) | Send Message
    There's nothing "artificial" about boosing EPS with share buybacks if it really does shrink the number of shares outstanding, since you then own a larger percentage of the company, especially if they can be opportunistic and buy back shares at 8 times earnings ex cash. What else do you want them to do with their huge cash pile, buy WhatsApp for $19B?


    GMCR continuing to buy back shares at $120 to reduce the share count for the ones they sold to KO at $75? Stupid. AAPL buying back shares anywhere near $500? Yes, please, go back down there so I can reinvest my dividends at lower prices and have management continue to buy back shares until they can figure out a better use for all the cash.
    20 Feb 2014, 02:41 PM Reply Like
  • Jack Staub
    , contributor
    Comments (100) | Send Message
    Asharaf, there's nothing silly or artificial about this. Buffet pointed to this advantage a number of times regarding Berkshire's portfolio. When Apple buys back shares when prices are low they can buy more shares, and I end up with a larger ownership in the company, and a larger share of its earnings.
    20 Feb 2014, 03:07 PM Reply Like
  • netflixlong
    , contributor
    Comments (47) | Send Message
    If Zuckerberg ran AAPL it would be a $700 stock by now. Cook was handed the keys to the kingdom but quite obviously isn't up to the task.
    20 Feb 2014, 12:36 PM Reply Like
  • awakeinwa
    , contributor
    Comments (705) | Send Message
    I wouldn't be so harsh. Under Jobs, new product categories took 3-5 years to engender. Secondly, Zuck deals with software which affords high velocity change and development. Hardware has a much longer pull. Third, if one is then tempted to compare with Elon, note he is specializing in at most two concurrent product lines. Apple is hitting its 5th year. Let's see what's unveiled this coming year before any hasty apples to oranges judgement
    20 Feb 2014, 08:14 PM Reply Like
  • fredbrooklyn
    , contributor
    Comments (167) | Send Message
    Interesting yesterday's experience with TSLA. I was sorely tempted to go against my gut and sell it before it reported, especially when it dropped $10, and knowing there was so much stock being shorted. But I decided, really at the last moment not to sell -- and was obviously rewarded. Not a huge reward, but still $4 higher than before it reported - and at least for now on more solid footing.


    No one knows what Apple is going to do, my bet remains on set top Apple TV, with lots of iPhone controlled apps, and games on Apple TV. But seriously, I don't talk to Cook any more than these "analysts" do. Surprize me, I can live with the 500 to 570 trading range.
    20 Feb 2014, 01:10 PM Reply Like
  • synchrogeddon
    , contributor
    Comments (392) | Send Message
    lol, business as usual
    20 Feb 2014, 01:41 PM Reply Like
  • paramdham
    , contributor
    Comments (47) | Send Message
    Interesting reads from cheerers and booers.
    unfortunately, the focus is blurred, and rambles in statistical theory.
    what is relevant?
    is aapl a sell at 570 or 625 a more plausible tp before it dips to 500-520 and/or zooms past 700 or languishes at 485-510 over the next 3 or 4 quarters.
    aapl is very large tech co..
    like a vlcc it accelerates slowly, the momentum carries it far effortlessly, allowing the master to plan the next adventure.
    if the master is complacent, unwatchful, wastes time and resources in aimless wandering and frittering on small cargoes with short destinations,-then it is time for those on board to jump ship.
    on the other hand if he is the strong silent secretive type and keeps smiling at the loungers on the waterfront or those trailing him,
    if he has worthy cargo on board, port of call charter rate,eta settled, those on board who have utmost confidence in him- enjoy the voyage,
    the doubters and grumblers will be whining and groaning at every catcall from the trailing vessels but will sail along joylessly.
    it does not require an astute analyst from b r a y to' predict' that the pt is 570, we all can do so by looking casually at the chart. he is giving himself room for the move to 625 at the slightest good rumour.
    he has been eloquently silent on the period of time the pt will hold and whether aapl slide-dive from there.
    he has not cared to give the salient factors discounted to arrive at his pt and direction.
    one suspects that aapl people will be gleefully waiting to the drop to 490 to lap up the stock- in- buyback. so should we. I am placing a gtc for buying at 510, with sl at 495after reading this downgrade. earlier it was at525 and sl495.
    mr. musk may be negotiating for adding features to his baby,
    like nfc for his charging stations sales centres
    driverless parking as a first step,
    linking up the the home to car
    and proofing the home against burglar, fire-smoke, monoxide, perimeter security,driver incapacitation while at wheel .- - all such functional add-ons the upper bracket would love to pay .
    A N D may be wanting to pay for this featuring, by offering his cash/stock both for full payment and royalty to aapl.
    aapl will love to allow him to carry the baby and get paid for decorating it.
    mr.musk will love to pass on the cost plus and fatten his wallet both from gov. subsidies and the revenues.
    govt will sbsidise more -claiming more greenness .
    both co shareholders happy so also the gov--it can point at this high price and rant on about income inequality.
    win win alround
    or mr.musk may be having a look see at the economy with the aapl man!
    20 Feb 2014, 01:47 PM Reply Like
  • Krakin
    , contributor
    Comments (82) | Send Message
    Mr. Reitzes .....I do hope someone is keeping track of all your predictions.We thank you for the entertainment.
    20 Feb 2014, 02:13 PM Reply Like
  • surferbroadband
    , contributor
    Comments (5382) | Send Message
    Tim Cook and Elon Musk had a conversation.




    Elon "Can you guys help upgrade the console in the Model S and a some of out other upcoming vehicles? That would save us a lot of headaches."


    Tim, "Sure Elon, How much do you want to pay, and get your engineers to sit and talk with our engineers. Also, we want a link in your console so that people can download i-tunes directly to the media player in the model S."


    Elon, "Done deal"


    Shake hands, walk out. Talk about having a golfing outing next weekend. How are the kids doing, etc..


    What could be bad news about that?
    20 Feb 2014, 02:20 PM Reply Like
  • doc47
    , contributor
    Comments (1831) | Send Message
    I'm taking the hint and holding here. I'll wait until Cook et al finally show me a finished, viable new product with a real sales date attached to it. I won't be "betting on the come."
    20 Feb 2014, 03:02 PM Reply Like
  • Glenway Fripp
    , contributor
    Comments (1626) | Send Message
    Reitzes sets the perfect bear trap! For all of you people out there that have been pinning your hopes on Apple T.V. and the iWatch; well he sure did scare you some! As for me? I have been saying for months that the iWatch, besides being a fiction, is a mere trinket at best and has nothing to do with Apple's big plan. The T.V.? Like I said Apples already done it! It is what it is and will keep evolving etc.. So Reitzes has played on your fears and lack of imagination by expressing his Lack of imagination or worse; lying. Remember that he reiterated his price target of $570. So there is nothing hypocritical with Barklays buying more shares now that Reitzes has kicked them down a notch.


    Maybe Reitzes sees what I see; A: The Smart Phone isn't a devise it is the devise. iPhone continues to do well against the competition. B: Apple's next target for disruption will be in Banking/payments. Then it is on to the iCar and biointerface computing. That is the next generation computing. Why do people think apple is getting into medical devises? If you think it is to predict heart attacks with a smart watch you are short sighted and WRONG! They are going to make acquisitions that will make licensing their products in this field possible. Most computer companies won't survive the transition to biointerface computers because they will hit huge obstacles with licensing their products. Google and Apple are getting ready for the next big thing.


    If I were more courageous I would have sold all my shares and bought them back and some; increased my market share a little. I am sure they played that game at Barklays. They didn't get anything from me! And watch out Reitzes! You might loose you job to Apple.
    20 Feb 2014, 03:12 PM Reply Like
  • ispank
    , contributor
    Comments (1148) | Send Message
    Reitzes should be fired!.
    20 Feb 2014, 04:49 PM Reply Like
  • Dukester
    , contributor
    Comments (118) | Send Message
    I want to paint flames on a Tesla, maybe put it in World of Wheels show.
    20 Feb 2014, 03:29 PM Reply Like
  • DWBowers
    , contributor
    Comments (1301) | Send Message
    Teslas are know for their real flames, no need to paint them.


    ...sorry couldn't resist making that statement.
    20 Feb 2014, 06:51 PM Reply Like
  • Dukester
    , contributor
    Comments (118) | Send Message
    DWBowers, I know. It was a little sarcasm, I couldn't resist.
    21 Feb 2014, 07:44 AM Reply Like
  • sonicted
    , contributor
    Comments (966) | Send Message
    Gosh, these analysts really lack imagination. Is it so hard to see that Apple will move into mobile payments and disrupt that industry? They have a huge user base to leverage. It will be the next big thing for Apple. And analysts are still talking about iPhone growth slowing, peak margins etc.
    20 Feb 2014, 05:41 PM Reply Like
  • Krakin
    , contributor
    Comments (82) | Send Message
    Flames on a Telsa would be too cool!!
    20 Feb 2014, 05:45 PM Reply Like
  • the pedestrian
    , contributor
    Comments (117) | Send Message
    Apple will CAP-EX into energy cell control systems for lithium and hydrogen for use by Tesla and others. Also it is getting into kinetic recovery control systems (flywheels, fluid transfer, etc.) Apple is excellent at hardware - software integration.
    20 Feb 2014, 06:23 PM Reply Like
  • flumeride
    , contributor
    Comments (506) | Send Message
    Is this Barclay's new modus operandi? Blast a company then buy after the drop.


    As far as Tesla it makes a lot of sense for them to partner but not to merge.
    20 Feb 2014, 08:32 PM Reply Like
  • rdwmotherss
    , contributor
    Comments (12) | Send Message
    Cook and Musk have a conversation and now's a done deal.....?? This is the kind of nonsense that drives me lopping off $45 billion in market cap because the numbers did not match sell sider's guesses ( estimates ) ....Ben, find a better use of your time.....
    20 Feb 2014, 09:02 PM Reply Like
  • hneumann
    , contributor
    Comments (630) | Send Message
    No, they had a conversation about self-driving cars, as could be read today on the internet.
    20 Feb 2014, 09:27 PM Reply Like
  • Nick Cox
    , contributor
    Comments (1488) | Send Message
    It is astonishing that Wall Street takes so much notice of analysts,and represents a real flaw in the American capitalist system.The stock market is supposed to be about valuing companies and raising capital.
    This guy Reitzes was wrong all the way when he was bullish on Apple as the price slid down to the 300's.If he is now bearish,that should be taken as a bullish indicator.
    21 Feb 2014, 03:00 AM Reply Like
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