Apple's Shares Finally Catch Up With The Market

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After a brutal sell-off early in the year, Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) stock performance finally matches the S&P 500’s for 2024. Each is up approximately 17%. It is a victory for shareholders, many of whom must have worried that weak earnings, lack of an AI product, shakey iPhone sales, and a flailing China business would continue to damage one of the best-performing companies of the century. Should people get ready for an Apple sell-off?

The most significant catalyst for the stock was Apple’s announcement a month ago that it would introduce a suit of AI products. Although management’s description of the products was vaguer than many shareholders would have likely, it was a sign that Apple might not end up trailing the AI offerings from rivals Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), and Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOG).

Apple’s business in China also appears to have improved sharply. In March, research firm Counterpoint reported that iPhone sales in the world’s largest smartphone market had dropped 24% in the first six weeks of 2024 compared to the year before. But, the trend moved positively and quickly. Data from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology showed iPhone sales up 52% in April. There was no reasonable explanation for the considerable change in the direction of iPhone sales.

Two things will likely drive Apple’s stock price for the balance of the year and show whether it can start beating the overall market as it has for well over a decade. First, it must show its earnings can be better than mediocre when announced early next month. The other is the launch of the iPhone 16, which will also be the first time Apple will show its working AI products.

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