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Is Apple's 'new iPhone' rally already over?

The iPhone’s main selling point has never lain in having industry-leading tech specs, but by making relatively few changes to the last iPhone, there is now a risk that Apple will be perceived to be playing catch-up

DAVID GRAY/REUTERS

Apple is widely expected to announce a new iPhone and perhaps a new iPad next month. Historically, shares have run up into a product announcement, and it looks as if this time is no different.

Sanford Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi reports that shares of Apple outperform materially in the eight weeks prior to a new product's announcement date: "Average outperformance during this period has been 1100 [basis points] during previous iPhone launches." Sacconaghi rates Apple at an overweight with a $750 (U.S.) price target.

Is Apple's product launch run done? Apple shares are up 24 per cent in the past three months (twice the Nasdaq return) and touched a new all-time high during Monday morning trading, at $658.87. Over the past one month, Apple shares have gained 9 per cent.

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Mr. Sacconaghi's research shows Apple stock gained 8.7 per cent in the month prior to the iPhone 4 launch in 2010, and just 6.5 per cent ahead of 2011's iPhone 4S introduction.

Given that Apple may also launch an iPad Mini, Mr. Sacchonaghi also provided data on how Apple has performed into the release of the tablet. Apple has outperformed by 900 basis points running into the launch of Apple's tablet.

After the announcement, shares of Apple have tended to remain flat, and even underperformed in the two months after a launch. Mr. Sacchonaghi believes this is because "the Apple blog-sphere has become increasingly effective and predictive, with major details of new products largely known before the announcement date."

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