FTN Capital Raises AAPL to Buy, Cites Steve Jobs

Bill Fearnley, Jr. of FTN Equity Capital Markets raised his rating on Apple's stock to a "Buy," based in part on the sudden realization that the success of the company may not hinge on Steve Jobs' health after all.

Barron's reported that the analyst raised his price target for AAPL to US$140 a share, and raised EPS (earnings per share) estimates for fiscal 2009 to $5.66, up from $5.19. He raised EPS estimates for fiscal 2010 to $6.67, up from $6.04.

"We have re-evaluated our thesis and now believe any potential product disruptions from the CEO's leave will be smaller than we previously thought,” Mr. Fearnley wrote. "We also believe investors are more prepared for the potential for a change in the role of the CEO."

Mr. Fearnley would be among the first financial analysts to issue this sort of statement about Apple and its CEO, with much of the chorus from Wall Street expressing concern over the role of Steve Jobs and his health.

In early afternoon trading, shares in Apple were trading at $102.46, up $2.74 (+2.75%). We reported earlier Monday that today is the first day that Apple has topped $100 a share since December 9th, 2008.

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