He calls himself an "Apple fanboy," owns four iPads and two iPhones, follows the company obsessively and predicts it will keep turning blockbuster profits. But whether you should own the stock is another matter.
He says it's just not worth it.
No one is sure why Apple's stock finally stopped rising last week, but you might point a finger at Walter Piecyk, a veteran analyst who apparently has uncanny timing when it comes to issuing critical reports on hot companies.
After Piecyk published a bold attack on Apple last week, the stock fell five days in a row, wiping out 10 percent of the company's market value, or $53 billion _ about what the most optimistic projections say Facebook is worth.
As if anticipating the drop, and perhaps the hate mail, Piecyk listed a dozen Apple products he owns, and why his family loves them, in his report April 9. He titled the section: "Am I an Apple Hater?"
"It's not about the products," Piecyk said in an interview Tuesday, as the stock finally broke its losing streak. "It's whether the stock discounts all the risks."
Piecyk thinks one big risk is that Apple could have a harder time selling iPhones if phone companies stop subsidizing most of the $600 purchase price for customers who trade in old models, as they have in the past.
He noted that AT&T has stopped paying for upgrades of iPhones for customers in two-year contracts. Piecyk expects Apple to sell 27.5 million iPhones this quarter, down from 33 million the three months before.
But the details of his argument seemed to matter less than his decision to remove Apple from his list of "buy" stocks.
In the heavily bullish analyst community, it was a heretical move. When Piecyk published the report, titled "Downgrading Apple to Neutral," trader blogs lit up with criticism _ and some praise, as much for his courage as for his views.
Of the 48 analysts who cover Apple, eight have a "hold" on the stock, according to FactSet, a provider of financial data. No one rates it "sell."
Whether everyday investors were even aware of Piecyk's report is unclear, and how much it had to do with the sell-off is impossible to determine.
Others have pointed to a federal investigation into how Apple and publishers set the prices for e-books, and rumors that the company will launch a smaller version of the iPad that might hurt sales of higher-priced models.
Then there is the easiest, perhaps best, explanation.
"I think it was due for profit-taking," said Shaw Wu, an analyst at brokerage Sterne Agee. "The stock has gone vertical." Continued...