Will Apple shares keep rising despite ‘weighty legal overhangs’?

US tech giant Apple Inc plans to skip a hearing on anti-competitive practices, and is separately set to go to trial against Epic Games.

  • Apple Inc (Nasdaq: APPL) share price reached US$132.995 per share
  • The iPhone maker is refusing to send a witness to an upcoming antitrust hearing
  • Apple is also facing a legal tussle with Fortnite maker, Epic Games
  • Analysts had an average target price of US$151.84 on APPL shares
  • Buy and sell Apple shares with an IG account

Apple shares finish week on higher ground

Shares of Apple Inc climbed 2% day-on-day to end Friday (09 April 2021) at US$132.995, on a volume of 106.3 million shares traded.

Compared to a week ago, the tech giant’s stock price was up 8.1%. This was boosted by the jump in AAPL shares on Thursday, amid a tech rally when US yields had retreated.

Out of 46 analysts, 34 recommended ‘buy’ on AAPL, nine rated it ‘hold’ and three said to ‘sell’. Their average target price was US$151.84, according to Bloomberg data.

Morgan Stanley last week lowered its target on Apple’s stock to US$156, from US$164, given the tech giant’s peers’ lacklustre share prices, though the analysts maintained an ‘overweight/attractive’ call.

UBS recently upgraded APPL to ‘buy’ with a higher target of US$142, as the research team expects Apple to capture at least 5% market share in the global battery electric vehicle market.

‘Apple faces weighty legal overhangs in the US and EU, though we view the company’s position in the US as good, and neutral in the EU,’ Bloomberg Intelligence (BI) analysts wrote.

Apple wants to skip antitrust hearing

The California-based company is refusing to testify at an upcoming US Senate hearing about anti-competitive practices at online app stores.

The hearing, planned for late April 2021, will be conducted by the Senate Judiciary’s antitrust panel to look into allegations of anti-competitive treatment of outside app developers.

Apple ‘abruptly’ declined to provide a witness for the hearing, according to a letter from the panel leaders on Friday, addressed to Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Reuters noted that app makers have long claimed that Apple’s App Store as well as Google’s Play Store were engaging in anti-competitive behaviour by requiring certain revenue-sharing payments and setting strict inclusion rules.

In the letter, senators criticised Apple’s decision to not testify. They said it initially engaged with the panel to discuss sending a witness, before the ‘unacceptable’ and ‘sudden change in course’.

Why is Apple in a legal battle with Epic Games?

Meanwhile, Apple and game maker Epic Games are going to trial on 03 May 2021 on antitrust allegations. AFP reported last week that the two companies were duelling in legal filings.

Epic, which makes the popular ‘Fortnite’ game, argued that Apple has monopoly power over the market for software developers and accused the tech giant of collecting ‘outsized commission’.

In response, Apple said it did not have a monopoly on digital games, and that the lawsuit was Epic’s effort to portray ‘Apple as the ‘bad guy’ so that it can revive flagging interest in Fortnite’.

BI analysts said Apple ‘may have solid defences’ in monopolisation lawsuits by Epic, other app developers, and app buyers.

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