The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Apple, iShares Dow Jones US Technology ETF, Select Sector SPDR Technology ETF and Vanguard Information Technology ETF

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For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL - December 16, 2015 - announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks and ETFs recently featured in the blog include Apple Inc. ( AAPL ), iShares Dow Jones US Technology ETF ( IYW ), Select Sector SPDR Technology ETF ( XLK ) and Vanguard Information Technology ETF ( VGT ).

Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free .

Here are highlights from Tuesday's Analyst Blog:

A Better Bite of Apple: ETFs Over AAPL Stock

Technology may be the sole shining star in the otherwise depressed 2015, but tech giant Apple Inc. ( AAPL ) is probably not. So far this year (as of December 14, 2015), AAPL is up just 1.9%. In short, Apple shares are seeing the worst year since recession.

Though the company beat earnings and revenue estimates in fourth-quarter fiscal 2015 driven by surging sales in China despite economic slowdown in the country (notably, China is the largest market for Apple's future expansion), the latest concerns over declining smartphones sales held the stock back from being the technology star.

Its shares were down over 4.9% in the last five days (as of December 14, 2015) against about 2.3% losses in the S&P 500 ) and 2.1% loss in the tech-laden Nasdaq-based ETF, QQQ.

As per CNBC, Apple shares plunged over 50% in 2008 but never looked back since then as it kept returning at least 5% each year afterward. However, the current year might snap this wining trend (read: Apple Fails to Impress: Should You Still Buy its ETFs? ).

The latest blow to Apple came following a few price target cuts. Morgan Stanley reduced its outlook for Apple smartphone sales and projected a 6% decline in smartphone shipments for the current fiscal year as the market is grown-up. Since Apple derives over 65% of sales from iPhone, any sales slowdown will definitely leave an ugly scar on Apple.

Apple iPad growth has decelerated a long way thanks to rising competition from other markets. New products including Apple Pay and Apple Watch are yet to pick up. Morgan Stanley slashed its price target on Apple to $143 per share from $162 while Barclays lowered its target to $150 per share from $155 despite remaining overweight on the stock, pe r the source .

In the last 60 days, 6 out of 14 analysts lowered Apple's earnings estimate for the second quarter of fiscal 2016 while four analysts upped the same. Per usatoday , apprehension over a smartphone sales slowdown that too at the peak of the holiday shopping season is a huge concern for the stock. Notably, Apple investors pin their hopes on the holiday season for strong gadget sales (read: 3 Apple-Focused Tech ETFs to Bet on for the Holiday Season ).

The news agency also went on to elaborate that about $123 billion in market value has been wiped out of Apple since its shares reached the 52-week high of $134.54 on April 28, 2015. As of December 14, 2015, Apple was valued at about $627.11 billion. The current market price is 22.3% higher than the 52-week low and 16.4% lower than the 52-week high.

Needless to say, Apple failed cash in on the general buoyancy in the technology sector this year.

The Nasdaq-based ETF is up over 8.1% (as of December 11, 2015), way above Apple's meager gains. Several of its competitors have surged by sturdy double-digits so far this year.

More Pain Ahead?

Bearish Technicals: The current price of AAPL is trading below the parabolic SAR indicating a bearish trend for the product. Moreover, its long-term moving average is lower than the intermediate and short-term averages.

It recently broke the 9-day (short-term) moving average on its way down, calling for more pain ahead. The stock is trading at a Relative Strength Index (RSI) value of 39.19, indicating that it is about to enter an oversold territory.

Even after the recent sell-off, Apple is not at all cheap. Apple's P/E (ttm) is 12.2 times against the industry average of 10.8 times. Apple has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) and hails from an industry which is in the bottom 6% in the Zacks Universe. However, the stock has Momentum and Value style scores of 'B' each and a Growth score of 'A' at the time of writing.

A few of its financial matrices for fiscal 2016 - including its revenue growth of 4.6% versus the industry average 9.3% - are not at all enthusiastic. However, the earnings growth estimate (7.3% vs. industry average 1.5%) is pretty decent at the current level. Other metrics like return on equity (42.9% vs. Inds avg 34.2%) and return on assets (19.7% vs. Inds avg 15.5%) are ahead of the industry, though not by a wide margin.

Are ETF Bets Better?

All in all, Apple stock s do not raise hopes for the near term. On the other hand, tech ETFs having considerable exposure to Apple are performing better than the stock. This because the ETF approach covers up one component's (in this case Apple) weakness by another component's strength and runs lesser risk (read: Apple ETFs: Value Trap or Value Play? ).

So, investors having a fetish for Apple and believing that the recent crash might open up solid buying opportunities can consider Apple via the ETF or basket approach. We highlight three ETFs here, each of which are Buy rated (see all Technology ETFs here).

iShares Dow Jones US Technology ETF ( IYW ) - Apple has 18.14% exposure and the top position in the basket followed by Microsoft (12.15%) and Facebook (6.49%). IYW is up 3.2% so far this year.

Select Sector SPDR Technology ETF ( XLK ) - Apple holds the top spot (15.14% weight) followed by Microsoft and Facebook. XLK is up 4.3% so far this year (read: ETF Tactics for a Rate-Proof Portfolio ).

Vanguard Information Technology ETF ( VGT ) - Apple has 14.9% exposure and again holds the top position. It is trailed by Alphabet Inc and Microsoft. VGT is also up 4.3% so far this year.

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APPLE INC (AAPL): Free Stock Analysis Report

ISHARS-US TECH (IYW): ETF Research Reports

SPDR-TECH SELS (XLK): ETF Research Reports

VIPERS-INFO TEC (VGT): ETF Research Reports

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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