Why Apple's Stock Is an Undeniable 'Buy' Right Now (Update 1)

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Updated from 10:06 a.m. EST to provide additional analyst comments regarding products in the eighth paragraph.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Apple AAPL has wildly underperformed other technology stocks of late, making the shares a bargain as the company enters the holiday-shopping season with a new iPhone, iPad mini and Mac laptops. That's what many Wall Street analysts are saying.

Over the past three months, Apple shares have lost 18.6%, compared to a loss of 7.3% for the technology benchmark Nasdaq. Year-to-date, the stock is up 38% vs. a gain of 11.5% for the Nasdaq.

Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White believes the recent under-performance might be over. He called the sell-off in Apple shares "insanely insane," given the valuation at which Apple shares are trading. According to White's calculations, Apple is trading at 7.6 times 2013 earnings, excluding cash.

"Those investors that have missed Apple or have been under-weight the stock, now have another opportunity to buy Apple before sentiment takes a turn for the positive during what has historically been the strongest quarter of the year for the stock," White wrote in his note. He has a buy rating on Apple with a $1,111 price target on the stock, the highest on Wall Street.

There are several theories why Apple shares have slumped. They include consumers tiring of Apple products, a lack of innovation, and competition from the likes of Samsung, Google GOOG , Amazon AMZN and others.

There is also concern that Apple's incredibly wide gross profit margins may shrink, as the company announces new products at lower price points (Apple's iPad Mini: What It Means for Investors) and gets squeezed by suppliers.

There are factors outside of the technology industry that are weighing on the stock as well. The so-called fiscal cliff in the U.S., a weak European economy and year-end tax-related selling are among them.

Apple: Here's Why the Stock Will Go On an Epic Run

Though Apple has had its share of negative press, the company has bright prospects going into the all-important holiday-shopping season -- and into 2013. The iPhone 5 is a hit, having sold 5 million units its first weekend. The iPad mini has been well-received by journalists and consumers alike.

The redesigned iMac, scheduled for release later this month and in December, was the most eye-catching product at Apple's October product launch. In other words, Apple has plenty going for it.

The added speculation of an Apple-branded television set could also be a major catalyst, says Baird Equity Research William Power. "Though timing and approach remain unclear, this remains a sizeable potential opportunity, and importantly could help reaffirm its innovation edge," Power wrote in his note. He rates Apple at outperform with a $750 price target.
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Topeka Capital Markets' White isn't the only analyst on Wall Street who's super-bullish on Apple. The average price target on Apple is $760, according to data compiled by Thomson Reuters. That's 44% higher than where Apple shares closed on Friday.

Apple shares are sharply higher in Monday's trading, up 5.82% at $558.38 on volume of more than 19 million.

Interested in more on Apple? See TheStreet Ratings' report card for this stock.

--Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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