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The August of Apple: Tech giant leads the Dow this month

It looks to be the August of Apple.

With a 7.4 percent rise month-to-date, Apple is the best performer in the Dow Jones industrial average, eclipsing the 4.5 percent bump enjoyed by second banana Visa. Tuesday was a particularly sweet session for the tech giant, as Apple shares rose 1.6 percent.

Comparing 2017 year-to-date performances, Apple's 38 percent rise puts it in second place — behind Boeing — among the 30 Dow stocks.

Some say the nice run is nothing to get excited about. Apple is expected to release its next iPhone in the fall, and macro strategist Boris Schlossberg of BK Asset Management argued Tuesday that "Apple always rallies into the new product announcement and then sells off afterward."

"This year the product faces further unknowns of very high unit price and deliverability issues," Schlossberg added in an email to CNBC. "So I think the stock is peaking."

Yet Mark Tepper, president of Strategic Wealth Partners, takes the longer view.

"Apple's strategic position is second to none because it owns the mobile platform that the wealthiest 15% of consumers use," Tepper wrote to CNBC on Tuesday. "It's a pure play on global mobile growth, which is where the ball is headed."

In addition, talk of lower corporate taxes and of more favorable tax treatment for repatriated profits points to significant potential upside for the company.

"A huge potential catalyst would be tax reform," Tepper wrote. "It seems we're making progress on that end, and a lower tax rate and/or tax holiday for repatriation of Apple's $200B offshore would drive the stock higher."

Wall Street analysts remain relatively excited about the shares. The median price target on the now-$160-stock is $178, with three-quarters of analysts rating the stock buy or overweight, according to FactSet data.

If Apple stays ahead of the pack in August, it won't be the first time. Apple also topped the Dow in February and March.

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Brian Sullivan is co-anchor of CNBC's "Power Lunch" (M-F,1PM-3PM ET), one of the network's longest running programs, as well as the host of the daily investing program "Trading Nation." He is also a frequent guest on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and other NBC properties.

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