Gleacher & Co: Apple Is Best Tech Company On Planet

Analyst Brian Marshall of Gleacher & Co. has reiterated his enthusiastic “Buy” rating on Apple’s stock (AAPL). Gleacher hosted a conference call with with Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer, and although no new information was provided by Apple, the analyst told clients in a research note that Apple is still the “best technology company on the planet” and pegged his 12 month price target price at $500.

This is on the low end of Wall Street’s range, with other firms seeing AAPL going as high US$666— The Street’s consensus target price is $545.

AAPL price chart showing two days in five minute bars

AAPL Two-Day Chart for August 16th, 2011

In the research note obtained by The Mac Observer, the analyst wrote that “AAPL offers the investment community the unique combination of of stability, growth and value.”

Even with Apple bringing in $30 billion last quarter, he believes that the company still has a long way to go in the global market and that AAPL will perform like a startup company for the foreseeable future. AAPL remains one of the three highest rated companies for the second half of 2011 recommended by Gleacher & Co.

Mr. Marshall also commented on a few salient parts of Apple’s business and their competition:

Google and Motorola Mobility

Apple believes as strongly about competition as the company does in protecting their patents and other intellectual property. Apple told Mr. Marshall that it believes all players must create their own technology and let the buyer decide who has the best product.

This point is well taken since Mr. Marshall is referring to the fact that in the purchase of Motorola  Mobility that we covered yesterday, Google was mainly trying to lock down the plethora of patents owned by Motorola Mobility to assist the Android market, while reserving the right to sue the pants off anyone getting close to their new intellectual property.

If you’ve been following the market recently you can’t help but stumble over the scores of patent infringement cases launched by and against Apple.

The Potential iPad vs. Mac Showdown

Mr. Marshall noted that the last quarter was the first one where there were enough iPads out there to affect Mac sales. Year to year, iPad sales increased 183% and Mac sales rose 14.4%. A lot of those iPad sales were filling the worldwide tablet demand since a year ago it was the only game in town.

Mac sales outpaced the rest of the computer market, but Mr. Marshall believes that the iPad did cannibalize Mac sales to some degree, noting that in the education market K-12 sales of iPads were larger than unit purchases of Macs.

Expanding the Global iPhone Footprint

Adding 28 new worldwide carriers for the—bringing the total up to 228—is proof that Apple’s supply chain has improved both in buying and assembly, according to the analyst. This portends good news for the next two quarters.

Overall, Gleacher & Co. is very bullish on AAPL and came up with the $500 target based on a 13 times multiplier to the firm’s current year’s earnings per share of $35, plus  a credit of ~$81 per share in cash.

The only downside Mr. Marshall could come up with is the Steve Jobs factor, something that really can’t be quantified. Our feeling here at TMO is that the Jobs succession story and all the long term repercussions it may have, has already been filtered into the stock over the last year or so.

Shares in Apple ended the day lower at $380.48 per share, down $2.93 (-0.76%), on light volume of 17.8 million shares trading hands.