Bollinger Bands


Apple: An Inflection Point

April 12, 2016

Shares of Apple have spent the last 10 days consolidating just under the 200 day moving average. As we outlined in our early March post on the fundamental side (Apple: EPS Growth to Resume this Summer), we perceive the highest risk in shares is to the upside. Let’s take a close look at the near-term trends and work our way out to the longer-term price action.

200 DAY MOVING AVERAGE. Apple has been consolidating at the 200dma for two weeks. During the entire rally from early February, it established a trend of gapping higher than consolidating for a few days before continuing. That may be exactly what we’re seeing here. RSI has back off from very elevated levels, and shares have largely remained above the 8ema, which we view as the near-term trend signal.

AAPL 200dma

NEAR-TERM BULL FLAG. Here is a closer look at the full flag consolidation that shares have formed. The upper trend line is sitting essentially right at the 200dma. Shares have rallied strongly over the previous several weeks and it’s not uncommon for a brief period of consolidation before moving higher. As long as it keeps its support at the $108 level, the path of least resistance is up.

AAPL ST

ESTABLISHED DOWNTREND. Since its peak in July 2015, shares have formed a downtrend. Interestingly, this downtrend line is sitting squarely at several crucial resistance levels. The first is the blue downtrend line itself. The second is the 200dma (not shown on this chart; see above). The third is the 50% Fibonacci retracement level of the entire correction since mid-2015. A break out from the bull flag would also pierce through all of these resistance levels that sit at the $110-$111 levels. It’s relatively clear air up to $120 above that.

AAPL Downtrend

START OF A NEW UPTREND? Clearly Apple has been in a sustained downtrend since mid-2015. A downtrend is defined as a series of lower highs and lower lows. You can see that beginning in late May 2015. However, the tide looks to be turning here. In January, Apple wasn’t able to achieve a lower low compared to the price seen in August 2015. That is beginning to look suspiciously like a higher low. Just the opposite of a downtrend, an uptrend is defined as a series of higher highs and lower lows. Therefore, if Apple is able to achieve a higher high (above the $123 level), it will objectively be in an established uptrend.

It’s also important to know how crucial the 25ema has been in signaling a shift in trend. See each of the blue inflection points marked on the chart.

AAPL Weekly Uptrend

25 EXPONENTIAL MOVING AVERAGE. We briefly mentioned the 25ema in the up/down trend analysis above. But this one deserves some more attention. Notice how each sustained correction is marked by three important attributes. The first is a several month period below the 25ema. The second is sustained bearish RSI (area highlighted in red). The third is a touch of the 0%BB (touch of the lower Bollinger Band on the weekly chart).

Before this most recent correction, there have been four cases over the past ten years that fit this bill. In each case, the shares crossed back over the 25ema at the same time the RSI crossed back into the green (bull) area above the 50 level. In each case there was a 16-30% gain in just the next 8 weeks. Shares were recovering from severely oversold conditions. This past November, shares looked poised to see the same strong run, but the rally failed. How will shares handle it this time?

Weekly 25ema

LONG-TERM TRENDS. The 8ema on the monthly chart is extremely telling, too. Above that line, shares are in rally mode. Below it, they are in correction. It’s almost clear as day. You can also see either a rounding or double bottom in each case. Of the three severe corrections in the past ten years (not counting the most recent one), shares have spiked 13-23% in the month following a cross back above the 8ema, and have continued to rally for several months. That’s where we stand today.

AAPL Monthly 8ema

 


Apple: A Positive Shift in Sentiment

October 28, 2015

Apple reported a solid quarter and provided guidance that was slightly ahead of our expectations (you can check out our pre-earnings expectations here). The most important pieces of the report weren’t provided in writing, but rather gathered from Tim Cook’s comments on the conference call.

FUNDAMENTALS

  • iPhone. Missed our estimates on the unit count, but ASP was well ahead of our expectations. Overall, revenue came in just 0.7% below our projection. We don’t see this as a negative; instead, we view it as Apple management shifting sales into the much tougher comp – the December quarter.
  • Macs. Our revenue projection was within 1.0% of the actuals, with units very slightly below our estimates, but ASP making up much of the difference.
  • iPad. This was the most meaningful departure from our estimates. Not only did they sell nearly 400,000 more iPads than we expected, but the ASP was also $23 higher than we expected.
  • Apple Watch. We were way too optimistic about the growth in the Apple Watch. Based on our estimates, Apple sold 3.6 million units, well below our 5.0 million projection. This growth rate looks very similar to the iPad after its introduction. We had expected higher growth since the iPhone installed base is so much larger now. Therefore, we’ll be reducing our estimates for Fiscal 2016.
  • Revenues. Overall, revenues came in 1.3% ($692,000) below our estimate. This can almost fully be attributed to the lower than expected Watch sales (1.4 million units x $450 ASP = $624 million).
  • EPS. We had projected $1.98 in EPS, just $0.02 above the actual.

Overall, we were ranked #12 of 33 analysts, both independent and professional, by Philip Elmer-Dewitt (here).

Guidance and Revised Estimates for Q1. Apple management guided to a mid-point of $76.5 billion for the December quarter. This is slightly above our $76.0 billion expectation. They set the low-point over $1 billion higher than last year’s actuals, deafening the crowd that was calling – not only for zero growth – but for negative growth. Tim Cook was also explicit when he said that iPhone revenues would be up, and so too would iPhone unit sales. It would not be a “trick” generated simply by higher ASP’s. It’s more unit sales. He was also clear about his view toward China. There has been no slowdown for Apple.

  • Macs. We’re bringing our estimates down from 5.80 million units to 5.75 million.
  • iPads. We’ll be raising our iPad estimates to 15.5 million units from 14.5 million units, due to the higher sales in Q4, the iPad Pro introduction, and increasing confidence in this category into the holidays.
  • Watch. We were disappointed by the numbers in Q4 and will be decreasing our estimate from 7.5 million down to 6.5 million. This is very similar to the iPad launch. In its second quarter, it gained 900,000 sales over the prior quarter (same as Apple Watch). In the next quarter, which was the Holiday quarter, it generated an additional 3.0 million sales.
  • iPhone. We’ve had our estimates at 82.5 million units and have decided to leave it as is.
  • Revenues. Based on these estimates, we’ve projected $79.9 billion in revenues. This equates to a 4.5% beat vs. the guidance mid-point. We feel very comfortable with this.
  • EPS. These estimates lead to an EPS of $3.48. This would equate to an LTM EPS of $9.62.

Fiscal Year 2016. We’re currently estimating FY2016 revenues at $255 billion with $10.63 EPS. Many investors are concerned that Apple can’t beat the “tough comps” coming up over the next few quarters. On the call yesterday, Tim Cook mentioned a single word several times: “subscription”. He views the iPhone as a subscription business, and so do we. The annual upgrade plan even more so, as well as the future roll-out of carrier billing via Apple. The growth in China continues to be more than robust and nearly 70% of the iPhone installed base has not yet upgraded to a 6/6s device. The negative foreign exchange headwinds will also decrease substantially after 1Q 2016.

TECHNICAL ANALYSIS AND CHARTS

Apple’s post-earnings reaction was very muted. The after-hours action was essentially nill. This morning, shares traded up slightly, and rallied slowly throughout the entire day. Shares are now sitting at the highest level since mid-August, over two and a half months. They ended the day near a critical make-it-or-break-it level, as you will see below. It certainly looks bullish, but keep in mind that we’ve got to get back above the $120 and 200dma level – and do so quickly to keep the momentum in a positive direction.

Inverted Head and Shoulders. Shares of Apple closed today just above the highs from last Friday, and at the highest level since mid-August. There’s a lot in the chart below. First, the inverted head and shoulders below is clear. It has technically broken the neckline ($117.50), and has a price target of $142. We love it when multiple pieces within a chart fit and work together. Interestingly, the Fibonacci extension levels all correspond exactly with very significant resistance levels. As you can see, each of them lines up – the 38.2% with the bottom of the post earnings gap, the 50% with the top of the gap, and the 61.8% with the all-time highs.

Additionally, the RSI has broken out of its downtrend and successfully tested it on the breakout. And the MACD is very bullish, starting from low levels and has room to run. Lastly, the 200dma is *still* rising, as surprising as it may be, and the 50dma is no longer falling.

AAPL IHS

Post-Earnings MACD. The MACD has risen into each of the five earnings announcements shown below. In two prior examples, the MACD continued to be bullish after earnings. In those two cases, shares continued to rally in a very significant way for many weeks after the report. In the other two examples, the MACD turned down immediately after earnings and acted weak all quarter. We see the MACD after yesterdays earnings continuing to act very strongly. That bodes well for the quarter.

AAPL MACD on Earnings

The Trend is Your Friend. An uptrend is defined as creating higher highs and higher lows. You can see that in the chart below. In mid-September, Apple created a higher low. In the past couple of weeks, it created a higher high than early September. Shares are back in an established uptrend.

AAPL Trend

IMPORTANT LONG-TERM CHART. The weekly chart below includes the 25 exponential moving average (EMA). We view that as a crucial long-term chart, since it has acted as support during uptrends and resistance during corrections. You’ll notice that we shaded each period of time during which shares saw a meaningful correction (well below a 50 RSI). After those periods, once the shares re-take the 25EMA, there has been a meaningful rally within just six weeks, and often continued for several more weeks or months. Additionally, upper Bollinger Band has been touched within 6-8 weeks each time.

Well, shares just broke through the 25EMA (as well as the 50 RSI level, which has been associated with the bull moves in the past). We can expect the 100% – 125% Bollinger Band level to be touched around the holidays. While that range currently sits at $130-$138, it will rise if price does.

AAPL Weekly EMA and BBand

Post-Earnings Bollinger Bands. Below, we illustrate each Apple earnings report. In those instances when Apple hits the upper BBand within the week of the announcement, we’ve shown it as a bold green line. You can see that during those quarters that quickly rose to the upper BBand, there was a quick and meaningful rally of approximately 20% in six weeks. In the one instance where it was below that level (11%), that’s because it hit the prior all-time highs, where it found resistance for a short period.

AAPL BBands Post-Earnings

NASDAQ (QQQ). The NASDAQ index is sitting at its all-time highs. Can you believe how quick that was?? It formed a pretty well-defined double bottom, which targets new highs near $119. We may see a gap fill down to the $110 level, or a re-test of the breakout point at $109. But the longer-term uptrend is still intact.

QQQ

S&P500 (SPX). The SPX has retraced the large majority of its losses. It gapped back up above its 200dma, re-tested it, and has since lifted off. The markets are looking solid at this point.

SPX Daily

Long-Term Trend. The long-term trend continues to be up. SPX bounced off the trendline where it formed a double bottom, and has since broken out (target at 2170, roughly 4% above current levels).

SPX Weekly


Apple: A Pivotal Report

October 25, 2015

Welcome back, folks! Over the past three months, we’ve spent most of our time analyzing the Apple technicals on Twitter (you can follow our feed on the right sidebar of this page). With Apple releasing its fiscal 4Q 2015 earnings – and even more importantly guidance for the holiday quarter – on Tuesday, we wanted to prepare an update on our expectations. We will review both the fundamentals as well as the technicals, and our thoughts heading into the report.

FISCAL 4Q 2015 EXPECTATIONS.

AAPL 4Q15

So let’s look at this by category:

  • iPhone unit shipments tend to be slightly higher during 4Q than the prior quarter. This is largely driven by the introduction of the new devices in late September each year. While the prior (n-1) devices fall off a bit going into the release of the new devices, that dynamic is more than made up for by the annual surge at the end of the quarter. Based on the trend analysis we’ve conducted looking at the year-over-year (and quarter-over-quarter) growth in unit shipments, we’re adding 2 million units compared to last quarter and 10 million compared to last year. While it’s a big jump over last year on an absolute basis, the percentage growth is in-line with what we’ve witnessed in the past. Additionally, the move to a larger form factor is driving some additional growth in the 6-series devices. On a pricing basis, we’re projecting an ASP of $655. This equates to a $5 decline over last quarter and a $50 decline over last year. This is in-line with the 4S and 5S models, as a larger percentage of users purchase the n-1 device (i.e. the 6, not the 6s).
  • Mac unit sales will likely come in at 5.8 million units. This category continues to see growth, but is well-established at this point and easier to forecast than the iPhone and iPad categories which have seen varied growth rates over the past few years. Over the past four years, it has seen growth ranging from 22-25% over the prior quarter. That is a very tight and well-defined range. We are projecting growth of 21%, equating to 1 million more units than last quarter. Similarly, Macs tend to experience a $50 decrease in ASP between the third and fourth fiscal quarters. We are projecting a similar decline to $1,200 ASP.
  • iPad will likely see a further decline in unit sales. The holding period of these devices is far longer than we would have expected. We’re projected 9.5 million units were sold in 4Q, down 1.5 million from the prior quarter. We’re also estimating a minor decrease in ASP to $410.
  • Apple Watch has seen an enormous shift in sentiment over the past few months. The initial huge expectations has turned into almost an afterthought. We were surprised to see some of the extremely low numbers that others are projecting. We are projecting respectable growth from 2.6 million units sold last quarter (our own estimate, since Apple doesn’t disclose this) to 4.5 million units in 4Q. Tim Cook stated that there will be more Watches sold this quarter than last, and even more during the holiday quarter. Some took that to be his way of lowering expectations. In our view, he was simply stating the obvious. With the additional data point of both Best Buy and Target fast-tracking sales into as many stores as possible, it’s clear that these things are selling.
  • REVENUE. We are projecting $52.1 billion in revenues, which is 4% above their guidance. This would be the second lowest beat against their guidance over the past two years. We tend to have a conservative bias in our numbers, so feel good that our numbers are not only likely, but that there is more room to the upside than the downside.
  • EPS of $1.98 that we are projecting is $0.10 higher than consensus. The fact that we believe the risk to the upside is higher than the downside risk makes us comfortable that Apple will in all likelihood beat consensus for 4Q 2015.

FISCAL 1Q 2016 EXPECTATIONS.

Importantly, there is much more to the story than simply performing well last quarter. The guidance for the holiday quarter will drive the post-earnings reaction. During last year’s holiday quarter (1Q 2015), Apple experienced a huge beat vs. consensus, whisper numbers and even their own guidance. While they typically beat their own guidance by 4-7%, last year they beat their guidance by almost 15%. That has caused many to theorize that they simply “pulled” future demand into that quarter due to the spike in interest for the larger screen.

It’s a similar dynamic to what happened with the 5s device. After selling 10 million more iPhone 5 units in the holiday quarter than the prior year (4s), the transition to the 5s device only saw a 3 million increase. Share price started to decline in September 2012 in anticipation of these very challenging year-over-year comps. The fear at this juncture in the current environment is that we will see the same dynamic with the 6s device. Apple was able to sell 25 million more units in 1Q 2015 (74.5 million units) than they were able to in 1Q 2014 (51.0 million units)). No way Apple could beat a comp like that, right?

AAPL 1Q16

So why do we disagree with the general consensus?

We are projecting $80.1 billion in revenues and $3.56 EPS for the holiday quarter, based largely on the sale of 82.5 million iPhone units. There are a few dynamics we need to keep in mind here. Let’s first look at this from a “top down” approach, instead of a “ground up” approach.

Apple has never guided to a lower revenue number on an annual basis. Even in the weakest of their quarters, which preceded (and likely caused) the crash in late 2012, the still guided nearly $2 billion higher than the prior year actual revenues. They’ve been able to do this as the markets the products are available within and their market share continues to grow. Tim has continued to set expectations at a high level and has even gone so far as to send a letter to Jim Cramer explaining that growth in China continues to be robust. We do not believe he would be sending these signals had he expected growth to stop this quarter. Therefore, until proven otherwise, we have to assume that the historical dynamics will remain unchanged and that Apple will guide to a higher revenue number than last year ($74.6 billion). Furthermore, since Apple historically beats by 4-7% compared to their guidance, we know that they will not set themselves up to fail. In all of the quarters in which they’ve issued guidance going back to 2008, they have never come in lower than their guidance.

When you take all this together, it implies that current estimates for the quarter are simply too low. If they guide to a mid-point of $76 billion in revenues (just 2% above last year’s actuals), that sets them up for an $80 billion quarter. That’s just about exactly the figure we achieved when undertaking our “ground up” analysis above – by projecting unit sales and ASP for each category. It always gives us more comfort when multiple analyses line-up and point to a certain outcome.

TECHNICALS. Now for the fun stuff 🙂

Downtrend & Fib Levels. As soon as AAPL broke through the downtrend line from July earnings through early last week, shares surged. Significantly, not only did it break through every significant Fibonacci level, but it broke above the strong resistance level at $117.50 like it was nothing and closed above the $118.50 resistance level (dotted black line). You can also see the blue descending channel that looks suspiciously like an inverse head and shoulders pattern that has broken to the upside…

AAPL Hourly

Inverse Head & Shoulders. Speaking of the H&S bottom, see below. That’s almost as clear-cut as it gets. Don’t focus on the exact price of the shoulders. The premise is this. Shares form a new low price (left shoulder), then bounce to create a neckline. The bulls fail, and shares fall to a new low.  But the share price is able to recover to the same neckline area as the first bounce. On a subsequent drop, the bears fail and create a higher low – thus ending the downtrend (defined as creating lower lows and lower highs). Once the bulls are able to take price above the neckline, it’s a signal that a new uptrend is in effect (since there is a higher low and a new higher high). That is exactly what we’ve seen here. But we also have the important signals of RSI breaking through a nine-month downtrend (red dotted line up top) as well as a bullish MACD cross. We will be much more comfortable with the pattern if it’s able to break above the 200dma.

AAPL IHS

Bullish MACD Crossover. On the chart below, you’ll notice that we’ve seen a bullish MACD cross (green dotted lines) just prior to the four previous earnings announcements (black vertical lines). Two of these have preceded strong rallies, and two have preceded pullbacks. What’s interesting to note is that the two failed MACD crosses happened while price tested all-time highs on weakening RSI. That is no longer the case.

AAPL Daily Earnings MACD

Longer-Term RSI. While we’re on the topic of RSI, let’s look at a longer-term chart. There’s a curious recurrence taking place in the chart below. Each time the weekly RSI gets to a severely oversold level (i.e. deep into the red highlighted area) the shares have rallied to hit at least the top Bollinger Band, if not the 125% BBand level, within roughly 6 weeks. That equates to the $131-$138 level based on the current BBands, but remember the top Band will continue to rise with price.

AAPL Weekly EMA

Additionally, notice the 25 weekly ema on the chart above. It tends to act as solid support during uptrends, and marks a significant caution point when breached to the downside. However, each time shares have punctured back above this level, it has seen a significant rally.

25 Weekly EMA. Here’s a closer look at that 25 weekly ema. You can see the significance of this level. It’s also interesting to note that each time the EMA flattens, it tends to signal an inflection point in price. We just saw it turn back up slightly, which may indicate that shares are ready to resume their uptrend.

AAPL EMA Inflection

Daily Bollinger Bands. A very important piece of the puzzle is the BBands. This is a cautionary note heading into earnings. At the bottom of the chart below, we’ve included the %BB, which measures where against the Bollinger Bands that price is trading. We’ve provided colored circles for where shares sit along the BBands heading into earnings (red = top, green = bottom, grey = middle). Since the BBands measure standard deviation from the 20dma, it should be no surprise that shares tend to revert toward the mean. Historically, over the past three years, when shares are sitting at the bottom BBand (green), they rally after earnings; when sitting at the top (red), they either consolidate in the best case, or decline. It’s important to note that shares sat at the top of the BBands heading into both 2Q15 (April) and 3Q15 (July) earnings, and we saw a decline on both occasions. It’s important to keep this indicator in mind.

AAPL Earnings BBand

Bollinger Bands Over a Longer-Term. However, before thinking that we’ve turned into a raging bear, we’ve analyzed how share price tends to react to hitting the top of the BBands (100% BB). Interestingly enough, there is zero trend here. Out of the 24 occasions we measured below, 12 marked the top, and 12 marked either near-term consolidation, or a continued rally. The other aspect to note is that when shares did, in fact, continue rallying, the RSI leaped to the 80-90 level.

AAPL Daily BBands

CONCLUSION. Guidance will be critical here. We mentioned the BBands only because they were an important aspect to the prior two earnings announcements. We observed it both times but did not factor it into our investment decision. Based on all of the charts and fundamental factors, what we’re currently expecting is this. Apple will beat estimates in Q4 and issue guidance that implies an $80 billion quarter may be at hand. But we will not see a spike in after hours trading as we did for GOOG, MSFT, AMZN. Instead, we will see a more muted move over the next few days, followed by a rally to new highs as we enter the holiday season. We will be watching closely for clues over the next two days and re-assess as we head into the big announcement.


Is Santa On His Way?

December 16, 2014

With all the pessimism over the past few days, it’s hard to see past the gloomy winter skies. But signs are starting to emerge that lead us to believe the Santa Rally is on its way… and soon.

S&P 500 (SPX) – The Wedge. We’ve been watching this chart for what seems like forever. And it’s continued to work well. The two converging trend lines are crucially important, and were only breached on one occasion (at the peak of the correction this October). Further, the 34 week moving average has been a significant support/resistance level.

SPX LT

S&P 500 (SPY) – Support. Looking more closely at the SPY, there’s strong support at the $198 level – just $1.50 below the current level. Further, the RSI is hitting oversold levels that have historically acted as solid buying opportunities. While many are worried of a straight drop similar to October 1987, the SPY created a higher high (in fact, the highest high) just last week. Before a more significant correction, all probabilities point to seeing a lower high develop, i.e. a re-test of the $206-$208 level.

SPY

VOLATILITY (VIX) – Topping Out. This chart has been a profitable one to follow. When the $VIX hits the 70 RSI level and jumps out of the top BBand, it has acted as strong support for the SPY. It is essentially signaling that capitulation is taking place and investors are dumping shares in fear of a steeper correction. Even in those instances it has “failed” (red arrows along the bottom), an investable bottom has been found within just a few SPY points. We believe the $198-$199 level will see strong support. If we do get down to that level tomorrow and the VIX continues to spike, we’ll likely be taking advantage of that early holiday gift.

VIX

TREASURIES (TLT) – Topping Out. Similar to the VIX, the treasury ETF (TLT) tends to act inversely to the equity market. As fear rises in the equity markets, investors flee to the safety of treasury bonds. The TLT has formed a really well-defined rising channel over the past 18 months. Shares of TLT recently breached the channel; it has also hit an RSI level that has historically led to pullbacks in the past. It’s likely topping out at this level, which means that investor fear will fall and equity markets should bounce.

TLT

APPLE (AAPL). Shares of AAPL have formed a well-defined rising channel. Each hit of the top trend line has preceded a pullback; likewise, each touch of the bottom trend has led to a bounce. In a previous post two weeks ago, we argued that AAPL was topping in the 116-120 area (and sold calls at that level). The risk/reward has now shifted. We believe the $103 area will be strong support right at the bottom trend line, and it also coincides with the top of the two month triangle formed in Aug-Oct. While there is likely $5 of downside risk, there’s roughly $12-$15 of upside risk back to the top of the channel and all-time highs. Wouldn’t be surprised to see a bounce off the 50 DMA right around currently levels.

AAPL

AAPL has also formed a bullish falling wedge pattern. We saw a false breakdown today with shares dropping below $107.50, but they recovered and closed back within the wedge. This type of action often precedes a breakout in the opposite direction. With every piece of news around Apple being very strong for long-term fundamentals, wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a re-test of the highs going into its earnings in just a few weeks.

AAPL Wedge

ENERGY SELECT ETF (XLE). We posted the chart below several weeks ago, just as the XLE was bottoming in October. Based on historical comparisons, we expected shares to see a Fibonacci retracement of between 38.2%-50% within six weeks (which we exactly saw) followed by a re-test of the lows (which we’re seeing now). Each time the shares have seen a mid-teens RSI, it has followed the same pattern. At this point, we expect shares to rebound to the previous consolidation area ($84-$86) within several weeks.

XLE

EXXON MOBIL (XOM). Shares of XOM have formed a crystal clear, well-defined head and shoulders pattern. In fact, it’s one of the sharpest H&S patterns we’ve seen in a long time. A perfect neckline that has acted as strong support, shoulders around the same level that lasted the same length of time. Picture perfect. However, it’s our expectation that this is a bear trap. With the broader markets, and the energy sector more specifically, showing signs of bottoming, this is likely a good opportunity to pick up XOM near the year’s lows with a well defined exit point.

XOM

CORN. Shares of CORN have formed another well-defined inverse head and shoulders pattern. It looks like this has at least $3-$4 to the upside over the next few months.

CORN


Apple: Updated Outlook and Thoughts on 4Q13 Earnings

October 28, 2013 (10:00 pm)

On Saturday, we provided an analysis (here) forecasting a near-term pullback in shares of Apple due to: (1) the shares having run $130 over the past three months, (2) spending multiple days well above the upper Bollinger Band, (3) negative divergence with RSI, (4) nearing the target of its double bottom breakout, and (5) a comparison to a similar price pattern in 2011. After earnings were announced this afternoon, the shares indeed pulled back sharply (down $20 at one point) before reversing course during the conference call. Let’s start with a quick roundup of the fundamentals before discussing the technical picture.

APPLE: THE FUNDAMENTALS

iPhones: 33.8 million sales at $577 ASP. Our revenue estimate of $19.5 billion was literally hit squarely on its head. While we projected 32.5 million iPhone sales, which was surpassed by 1.3mm units, the average sales price was lower than we expected. Generally, that isn’t much of a surprise, since a beat on unit count means they likely sold more iPhone 4 and 4s (at a lower price point) than we had expected.

iPads: 14.1 million sales at $439 ASP. Our revenue estimate of $6.5 billion was missed by $300 million, driven by an overestimation of unit sales (15.0 million). Our ASP forecast of $435 was accurate, with only a $4 variance from the actual average price.

Macs: 4.6 million sales at $1,230 ASP. Our revenue estimate of $4.9 billion was low compared to the $5.6 billion actually generated. This was largely attributable to the significantly higher sales than we projected (3.8 million). However, the impact was somewhat muted by the significant decrease in ASP from the previous quarter (well below our estimate of $1,300).

iPods: 3.5 million sales at $164 ASP. Our revenue estimate of $600 million was well within striking distance of the $573 million in actual sales. However, our mix was off slightly, with a higher sales number (3.75 million) but lower ASP estimate ($160).

iTunes & Accessories: $4.2 billion and $1.3 billion, respectively. Our aggregate estimate of $5.5 billion in these two categories ($4.0 billion and $1.5 billion, respectively), are spot on with the actual results.

Revenues and Margins: $37.5 billion, $8.26 EPS, 37.0% margin. Overall, our estimates of $37.0 billion, $8.33 EPS and 37.0% margin were extraordinarily close to the actuals. We’re relatively happy with our analysis this quarter and are comfortable that we have a good grasp of Apple’s broader fundamental picture as well as a new-found understanding of their guidance, which will help us moving forward.

LOOKING FORWARD TO 1Q2014: The mid-point of Apple’s guidance is $56.5 billion. We are anticipating a 4.5% beat on the top line, based on recent results vs. guidance. We worked backwards to estimate the most reasonable mix of iPhones/iPads/Macs/iPods, which you can see broken out. We initially wanted to project a higher iPad unit figure, but are somewhat worried about supply constraints (especially with the mini, which isn’t being introduced until late November) and the fact that the new iPad Air won’t begin sales until November. We’re tempering our estimates on that end, but are making it up with higher iPhone sales. A massive number of phones – predominantly the 5s – which were ordered during and after the launch were pushed into this quarter. We expect a blowout on the iPhone front. We also expect Apple margins to come in at the high-end of the range at 37.5%, which would drive LTM earnings back over $40 – significantly, this would be the first growth in earnings in a relatively long time.

AAPL 1Q14

APPLE: THE TECHNICALS

Updated Comparison to 2011: We’ve harped on this chart a number of times. Until this scenario is invalidated, we will continue to use it to our advantage. Remember: technical analysis is not voodoo; it’s the study of investor psychology and historical patterns.

We noticed two more factors that contribute validity to the comparison to 2011. The first is that MACD, not only RSI, has now formed significant negative divergence. The second is that, in both the 2011 and 2013 patterns, the run from the low (Point 1) to high (Point 7) has been exactly 36%. See the updated chart below.

AAPL 2011COMP

Negative Divergence: We included the chart below to get a closer look at the negative divergence that has formed on both the RSI and MACD over time. This has taken place on several occasions in the past. In each case, the divergence has preceded a significant and near-term pullback in the shares (note, however, that the March 2012 RSI divergence was not confirmed by MACD).

AAPL DIVERGENCE

Rounding Bottom: We’ve focused on the potential near-term downside, but we don’t want to lose sight of the bigger picture. This rounding bottom + handle is a powerful chart. We fully anticipate the target being met in the Spring of 2014.

AAPL Rounding Bottom

Conclusion: The whipsaw we saw in after hours trading leaves us uncertain which direction the stock will trend tomorrow. We believe that, even if the shares manage to rally tomorrow, it will likely end up being a “blow off top” before a pullback. The shares have run almost $140 in just the past three months (and $80 in 5 weeks).

However, there are a number of things we’ll be watching that could invalidate our near-term thesis: namely a China Mobile deal or an introduction of a new product category before the holidays. Otherwise, we’ll be looking at three re-entry opportunities:

  1. Rounding bottom support line at $510
  2. 50 DMA at $492 (currently)
  3. $480 previous consolidation level

We are extremely bullish longer-term and expect to have a full allocation of Apple positions as we head into the Holidays.