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How to play Apple’s surprise stock split: Tech analyst

Apple took a big leap toward becoming "shareholder friendly" when it announced a 7-to-1 stock split Wednesday, a move that will shave off hundreds of dollars from current share prices, JMP Securities' Alex Gauna told CNBC on Thursday.

The stock becomes increasingly attractive to retail investors this June, when the measure takes effect and brings share prices into the mid-$70s, based on Wednesday's closing price. Despite the more accessible entry point, Gauna has a counter-intuitive idea on how to play the stock: buy up its key suppliers.

Apple stock could still rise back above $600 per share (based on the current, pre-split price) after its strong recent quarter, Gauna said. The massive tech company on Wednesday handily beat revenue estimates from Wall Street, which bodes well going into major product launches in the latter half of 2014, he added.

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The earnings beat sent Apple shares more than 8 percent higher on Thursday, their best trading performance in two years. Apple's suppliers, however, offer a way for investors to play the field, Gauna said.

"That's why JMP securities recommends buying partners as a more diversified play," Gauna said Thursday on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street." "We think that's a safer play."

Gauna named microprocessor company ARM Holdings, semiconductor company Skyworks Solutions and Knowles, which supplies microphones to Apple and Samsung, as investment ideas. Those suppliers are growing faster than Apple itself, Guana added.

Read MoreApple spikes on earnings beat, stock split

Apple can still outperform, Gauna added, but that depends on how consumers react to Apple's upcoming iPhone reboot and potential dive into wearable tech.

"It keeps moving higher here ahead of a well-anticipated iPhone 6 launch," Gauna said of Apple's stock price. "How far it can go will depend on what we can get from Apple. Unfortunately we've been disappointed in the past."

Tom McClellan, editor of The McClellan Market Report, called the 7-for-1 split a "peculiar" number.

"It's also interesting that if you take the recent share price of Apple, well up in the $500s, and divide that by seven, that would put the share price of the split-adjusted Apple right down smack into the middle of the price range of all the 30 current Dow components," he said on "Halftime Report."

McClellan also pointed out that Standard & Poor, owner of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, had a choice in whether to add Apple to the index.

"Do they want to take it back to Charles Dow's original idea of an industrials index, as opposed to a broad-market index with things like insurance companies and retailers in there, as opposed to stuff-makers," he said. "Apple is arguably one of the biggest and most important industrial stocks, as they make stuff, and so its exclusion from the Dow thus far is a glaring oversight that arguably should be more than anybody else in the Dow."

McClellan expected that Apple would join the Dow.

"I think it's likely to happen, and I think that apart from that, Apple's likely to head up to a top that's due in about June and then settle back some," he said.

CORRECTION: This version corrected the spelling of the last name of JMP Securities' Alex Gauna.

—By CNBC's Jeff Morganteen. CNBC's Bruno J. Navarro contributed reporting to this article.

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