SG Cowen Analyst says Apple stock is compellingly cheap

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspanis speech before a Senate committee this morning gave a boost to confidence levels in the stock market resulting in a strong rally led by Dow component IBM. Apple regained about half of yesterdayis precipitous loss.

Mr. Greenspanis original words always deserve close inspection by serious investors. In essence, Mr. Greenspan said he believes that the economy shows signs of slowing as interest rates have been pushed to the highest level in almost a decade. However, he didnit rule out the possibility that more rate hikes may be appropriate later this year.

Strong earnings continue to support the on going rally. Both Sun Microsystems (SUNW) and America Online (AOL) beat earnings handily this afternoon. But Agilent (A), the Hewlett Packard spin-off, said it wonit make third quarter estimates.

Appleis stock bounced back by 2 7/16 to close at 55 1/8 on double the average volume at 8.2 million shares. AAPL gapped higher by over $2 this morning, then quickly shot up to $57, only to settled back down to the $55 range to trade flat for the remainder of the day.

SG Cowen analyst, Richard Chu, upgraded Apple to a "strong buy" from a "buy" today and told Reuters, "With prospects for 20 percent-plus annual growth, proven streamlined execution, potential for more aggressive monetization of Mac customer base, and what appears to be a wide-open playing field for future innovation, Apple stock is compellingly cheap"

The Nasdaq rallied 128 points (3.18%) to closed at 4184 on volume of 1.7 billion shares, gaining back more than yesterdayis decline.

The Dow climbed 147 points (1.38%) to close at 10843 on volume of a billion shares. Financial stocks moved sharply higher on hopes that interest rates will ease going forward, meanwhile the REIT index hit a new 52-week high.

The S&P 500 rose 13.61 points (0.92%) to close at 1495.57.

In Apple related businesses: Akamai climbed 4 7/16 to 125 7/16. Adobe soared 7 5/16 to 137 1/4. Earthlink inched up 1/4 to 16 dollars. Motorola gained 1 5/8 to 38 1/8.

IBM climbed 8 5/16 to 117 1/16. Yesterday, IBM announced earnings of $1.06 per share, up from last yearis $0.91 and beating estimates of $1.00. Total revenues were down 1%. But today the IBMis stock soared after the company said sales will trend higher for the rest of the year and three brokerage firms upgraded the stock.

Appleis competitors: Hewlett Packard gained 1 1/2 to close at 131 5/16. Gateway slid by 5/8 to close at 63 1/8. Compaq gained 5/16 to 27 13/16. Shares of Microsoft bounced back 1 11/16 to 74 13/16. Intel climbed 4 9/16 to 142 11/16.

In economic news: Weaker US housing starts last month supplied further evidence that the Federal Reserveis interest rate hikes are having the desired effect on economic activity. Housing construction fell 2.6% in June to its lowest level in two years.

The Commerce Department announced yesterday that the US trade deficit climbed to a record $31.04 billion in May. However, even as the trade gap continues to widen, exports and imports actually declined for a second month.

Tuesday, the consumer price index (CPI), a measure of inflation at the retail level, rose a greater-than-expected 0.6% in June helped along by the strongest rise in energy prices in 14 months. Consumer prices were up 3.7% year over year in June matching a nine-year high reached in March.

The Mac Observer Stock Watch Virtual Portfolio was mixed today. IBMis and Appleis come back help our portfolio, but Lucentis (LU) stock sank about 15% after "the phone-equipment manufacturer warned of slower growth ahead even as it posted stronger-than-expected third quarter profit", according to CBS Market Watch.

For full quotes on all the companies mentioned in this article, we have assembled this set of quotes at Yahoo! for your reference. For other stories regarding Appleis stock activity, visit our Apple Stock Watch Special Report.