$AAPL Rallies on Positive Analyst Notes

$AAPLShares of Apple Inc. rallied on Tuesday after analysts with UBS and Pacific Crest issued positive research notes on the company. The stock jumped as much as 3 percent on strong volume, making up lost ground from previous sessions.

Pacific Crest analyst Andy Hargreaves issued a research note saying that iPhone and iPad sales appear to be on target with the firm's analysts. Mr. Hargreaves has only a "Neutral" rating on Apple's stock, but investors may have taken his note as a counter to Peter Misek of Jefferies & Co., who recently said that Apple's iPhone sales were slowing.

Steven Milunovich is more bullish on Apple, and he maintained his $600 price target on $AAPL and a "Buy" rating in a research note he sent clients on Monday. He argued that his price target is a "reasonable" valuation for a company performing at Apple's level.

He acknowledged that investors are clamoring for Apple to release a larger screen iPhone to keep up with popular large-screen Android devices, while pointing out that Apple seldom sacrifices anything for sake of market share.

“Perhaps Apple will meet its internal need for differentiated product while covering more product space to grow revenue as it did with the iPod," the analyst wrote. "If not, it probably will err on the side of yielding revenue dollars though giving up less in profit share."

He also told his clients that innovation into "new categories" will "require investor patience."

As of this writing, shares of Apple were trading at $432.46, up $12.41 (+2.95 percent), on strong volume.

As we noted on Monday, Apple and Exxon Mobil currently have very close valuations. Apple gave up the title of world's most valuable corporation to the energy giant on Monday, but regained the title on Tuesday.

All things being equal, the two companies are likely to continue trading places in the near future until a long term catalyst sparks a bigger move for one or the other. We also noted on Monday that the title is meaningless other than bragging rights.

*In the interest of full disclosure, the author holds a tiny, almost insignificant share in AAPL stock that was not an influence in the creation of this article.