Apple stock, struggling to reverse a downtrend, rose again Monday amid speculation of a share buyback program and fat dividend.
The rumor has become a perennial since Apple said it was looking at ways to reward shareholders with some of its $137 billion cash horde.
Besides the dividend rumor making the rounds, there was an AppleInsider report quoting a new report out of China, claiming Apple is constructing fingerprint sensors in the iPhone 5s and a chip to allow it to process mobile payments. Apple later said it had nothing new to report and no comment on rumors.
Scott Redler of T3Live.com said traders have been moving into Apple ahead of anticipated news on Apple's cash. "Within the next week, they've got to come out and say something," he said. But traders are also watching for a technical rebound in Apple, which skidded to a low of $419 last week.
"I think it's trying to hold $420. I think people think it's soon going to come out with news on a buyback," said Redler. "It needs to get above the $435/$437 pivot point to break the downtrend and start looking better."
Apple stock traded as low as $425.14, a more than $6 decline on the day, before rallying mid-afternoon to as high as $439.10. Apple closed at $437.87, a gain of 1.4 percent.
Apple has been under pressure to enrich shareholders and withstood an assault by hedge fund manager David Einhorn, who took Apple to court last month over his proposal for a preferred dividend. Einhorn dropped the case after winning an injunction blocking Apple from seeking approval to limit its ability to issue preferred shares without a shareholder vote.
Oppenheimer Asset Management chief technician Carter Worth, for one, sees Apple as a possible battered beauty ready to rebound. He says Apple's time may have come, after going on a round trip, shooting to $705 in September, back to a low of $419 last week.
"We are buyers here. A terrible chart, which we believe, is 'so bad that it's good,'" he wrote in a note.Worth, meanwhile, writes the sell-off in Apple is "mature in terms of magnitude (-$286...-40.6 percent) and duration (5-1/2 months in the making) leaving the stock right back at the level where the euphoric, parabolic move of 2012 got under way."
Apple has now retraced the move, Worth said, beginning on January 26 with a gap up that has since been filled.
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"(Apple) shares have expunged a great deal of the exuberance and hubris of the past year," Worth wrote. The 40 percent decline also has shaken out "fast money" that started chasing the stock in January of 2012.
Apple is now the farthest below its 150-day moving average at any time since the stock market collapsed in the financial crisis in 2008/2009, Worth noted. That could mean the stock would move back toward the 150-day moving average, and the meet the "smoothing mechanism" around the $525 level.
Redler said there are buyers at higher levels, rather than lowers, as traders watch to see if it can hold a floor.
While Apple may be ready to bounce, the S&P 500 could be getting ready to head in the opposite direction, Worth wrote. The two diverged in the fall, when the S&P began its current rally and Apple sold off.
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"Bottom line: We are buyers of AAPL here, playing for a prospective rebound...and sellers of the market here, playing for a prospective sell off," Worth notes. As for Apple, it traded places with the S&P twice, showing out-performance in February but then giving it all back.