Apple (AAPL) has been a strong market leader in recent years, releasing a string of innovative, game-changing products like the iPod, iPhone, and, most recently, the iPad.
As a November 29 article in IBD noted, the iPad is becoming popular with investors who like how it lets them do stock research and make trades from virtually anywhere.
Apple's sales growth has accelerated during the past four quarters, hitting 67% in the latest report.
Over the same period, earnings growth has ranged from 47% to 86%.
For fiscal 2011, which ends next September, analysts see earnings rising 26%, but they see earnings cooling to 16% in fiscal 2012.
Return on equity is 35%, which is well above the 17% minimum historically seen in leading growth stocks.
Mutual funds and hedge funds own about 39% of the company's shares. But the number of funds owning the stock fell last quarter. Ideally, you'd like to see that number rising.
Apple Chart Analysis
Apple's had a great run in recent years. It shot out of long cup-with-handle base in July 2009 (Point 1).
It ran up, then took a break and formed a base-on-base pattern (Point 2).
After breaking out and climbing up some more, it formed another base-on-base (Point 3).
Apple broke out of that pattern and moved up again. In recent weeks, it's paused and pulled back to its 10-week moving average line (Point 4).
Apple has started to climb up from that benchmark line, but so far, volume has been below average.
If volume kicks in, it could present a buying opportunity. In that case, the buying range would be between the 10-week moving average line and 5% above the peak in the pullback.
Watch to see if this pullback lasts long enough to become a base pattern. If that happens, it would be base #4. Late-stage bases can have a bigger risk of failing, so that's also something to keep in mind.
Apple Stock Checkup
At 96, Apple's Composite Rating is #1 within its 21-member Computer — Hardware/Peripherals group.
Its EPS Rating of 99 and its SMR Rating of A are also #1.
Its Relative Strength Rating of 84 ranks 2nd among its peers.
The stock's Acc/Dist Rating of B- comes in at #14 within the group.