Guess what company managed to escape the pounding technology shares took on Wall Street today?
Apple Computer (AAPL), one of the most beleaguered computer companies around, inched up 3/16 today to close at 16-3/4, while shares in powerhouses such as Microsoft (MSFT), Intel (INTC), Compaq (CPQ), Dell (DELL), and Hewlett-Packard (HWP) all fell. Apple had traded as high as 18-1/8 before the market closed.
Why the surprising bullishness on Apple in the largest single-day point drop on Wall Street? Today, an analyst from A.G. Edwards raised his recommendation on Apple to "maintain" from "reduce" based on the belief that there will be more positive rather than negative news coming out of the company in the near term.
Analysts also are speculating that the search for a chief executive at Apple may soon end, perhaps with interim CEO Steve Jobs deciding to take the slot permanently. Some of the other candidates rumored to be on the short list--notably SBC Communications executive vice president Dave Dorman and Cadence Design chief Joe Costello--have since taken other slots, reigniting the rumor mill.
Also affecting Apple's stock is the fact that the company earlier this month shipped a preliminary version of its next-generation operating system, code-named Rhapsody, to more than 10,000 software developers.
An Apple spokeswoman today said "we have nothing to announce" in regard to the CEO speculation. She added that the company has a policy of not commenting on fluctuations in its stock price.
Just to keep things in perspective, however, traders noted that Apple is trading toward the low end of its 52-week high. The stock has traded as high as 29-3/4 and as low as 12-3/4 in the past 52 weeks.