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Apple surges 5% to record after forecast shows Wall Street fears over iPhone delay were ‘overblown’

  • Wall Street analysts are surprised over Apple's strong sales guidance for the September quarter after worrying about a potential delay for the next iPhone.
  • The smartphone maker gave fiscal fourth-quarter sale guidance for between $49 billion and $52 billion versus the $49.2 billion Thomson Reuters analyst consensus.
  • Apple shares have been one of the best-performing large-cap names in the market.

Several Wall Street firms told their clients in recent months they were worried Apple could delay the release of the next iPhone.

But analysts are now saying the concerns were overstated after the smartphone maker gave a better-than-expected financial forecast for the September quarter during its earnings report Tuesday.

Apple shares opened up 6 percent Wednesday morning to a new all-time high. The stock closed up 5 percent at the market close.

"The outlook implies that fears of an iPhone X launch delay, and/or limited availability of the device, may have been overblown," Piper Jaffray analyst Michael Olson wrote Wednesday in a note to clients. "We recommend owning AAPL due to growing anticipation around iPhone X and a favorable trajectory for services revenue."

Olson reaffirmed his overweight rating and raised his price target for Apple to $190 from $158, representing 27 percent upside from Tuesday's close.

The tech giant reported strong fiscal third-quarter earnings Tuesday. Its sales guidance for the next quarter also came in above expectations at between $49 billion and $52 billion versus the $49.2 billion Thomson Reuters analyst consensus.

As a result, Morgan Stanley raised its September quarter iPhone unit estimate significantly to 43 million from 37 million.

"Despite investor concerns that OLED iPhone shipments could push to Nov/Dec or even next year, management guided September quarter bullishly and sounded confident on upcoming product launches this fall," Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty wrote Wednesday. "We increase our September quarter iPhone unit shipment estimate … in part due to higher overall demand but also due to some of the new products likely contributing later in the quarter."

Huberty maintained her overweight rating and $182 price target on Apple shares.

JPMorgan predicts the stock's bounce on its strong guidance will be sustainable going forward.

"The midpoint of Apple's FQ4 revenue guidance at $50.5bn was a significant 7.5% ahead of our estimate," JPMorgan analyst Rod Hall wrote Wednesday. "The stock is rebounding to 'pre delay' levels on this though we believe the investment story runs through 2018 as pent up demand for a refreshed iPhone portfolio drives volumes for an extended period."

Hall reiterated his overweight rating and increased his price target to $176 from $165.

Apple has been one of the best-performing large-cap stocks in the market. Its shares rallied 29.6 percent year to date through Tuesday versus the S&P 500's 10.6 percent return.

— CNBC's Michael Bloom contributed to this story.