After a stellar start to 2015, Apple stock has been stuck in neutral. But if history is any indication, the company's stalled rally is setting up for a perfect buying opportunity.
"I think this tight trading range is really just healthy consolidation," technical analyst Ari Wald said Wednesday on CNBC's "Trading Nation." "The stock had moved up a lot, and it's just moving sideways to work off some of those overbought conditions."
Shares of the tech giant soared more than 17 percent in the first eight weeks of the year, but since then have been stuck in a tight range—up a mere 1 percent. But despite the rather dull performance of late, traders are still convinced Apple is a must own for your portfolio.
According to Wald's chart work, the recent activity in the stock has an air of familiarity. "It's interesting to me the similarities between now and the summer of 2010 when Apple moved sideways for a number of months following a major breakout and then resumed higher."
Wald believes the stock will have the same fate this time around, as this sideways move could create a very attractive buying opportunity for investors.
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"I think we could see continued [range] trading for another month," said Wald, head of technical analysis at Oppenheimer. "But we think the next significant move for Apple is higher. And the level we are watching is $145." That's a nearly 12 percent move from current levels and would mark an all-time high for the stock.
Fundamentally, Erin Gibbs agreed with Wald's thesis that Apple could be heading higher, and suggested that at current levels, the tech giant's valuation is actually trading at a discount.
"Apple has tended to trade from about 13.2 to about 15.5 times forward earnings for the past year," said Gibbs, equity chief investment officer for S&P Capital IQ. "Right now, it's at about 14 times." Gibbs noted that if the company's valuation moved back toward the higher end of the range, Apple shares could rise to $140, or about 8 percent above current levels.
"This is more than I expect from the broader market," she said. "I view it as a safe core holding."
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