If the analysts are right, expect to see another rerun of the harsh reality of investing. Stocks that are popular, rising fast and can seemingly do no wrong — are often doomed to subpar returns going forward. It's almost by definition. The more investors are bidding up shares of a company, the higher the price and the lower the future returns.
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Apple is a classic example. Apple's run has been impressive. The stock is up 25.4% this year, a remarkable gain given how large the company is and how valuable it is. But as the stock runs up, the potential upside is getting increasingly smaller. The average analyst has a price target of $105.36 on the stock, which implies just a 4.8% upside.
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Compare Apple's 4.8% expected stock gain with that of Nabors. Analysts are putting a price target of $33.80 on the stock, which closed Tuesday at $26.10. That's a 29.5% expected appreciation, not too shabby since the stock is already up 54% this year already.
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Analysts at least see a reason for the high hopes — earnings. Investors expect Nabors' adjusted earnings to rise 7% this year. OK, not all that impressive. But that's not what investors are paying for now. Analysts are forecasting the company's earnings in 2015 to soar 80%. Compare that growth with Apple, where analysts are calling for 11.6% growth this year and just 11% in 2015.