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Why Apple earnings could be a ‘sell the news’ event

Apple is set to report its quarterly earnings after the bell on Thursday, and while the market is largely expecting the company to beat its earnings expectations, some have a more bearish outlook.

Even amid the company's recent iPhone X launch and generally positive reviews out on Tuesday, Apple has lost some of its edge, said Boris Schlossberg, foreign exchange strategist at BK Asset Management.

"I think it's very much 'sell the news' at this point. I think everyone is focused on a number. But it may be worthwhile to think about feelings at this point. Apple is a luxury company, and the worst thing a luxury company can do is lose its cool, and I say this very much as an Apple fanboy. Apple has really lost a lot of its cool over the last two years because its products just have not been up to spec in many ways," Schlossberg said Tuesday on CNBC's "Trading Nation."

He pointed specifically to apparent issues surrounding the new operating system.

"I think it's going to be very interesting to see if the X really rescues them ... if it becomes that cool object, or it becomes an object of derision as we go forward. So to me, the jury is very much still out. There's an enormous amount of enthusiasm," he said, adding, "I remain highly skeptical that they're going to get the kind of demand the market is looking for."

After past iPhone release dates, Apple shares have reacted differently. In September 2012, in the month following the iPhone 5, the stock fell nearly 13 percent. In 2014, in the month after the iPhone 6 release date, Apple shares fell 2 percent.

Last year, in the month following the iPhone 7 release, shares rose 6 percent. This year, since the iPhone 8 release on Sept. 22, the stock is up a little more than 10 percent.

From a momentum perspective, some are cautious on the stock, which has gained nearly $81 billion in market cap since its Sept. 25 low.

"I'd be pretty cautious about running into the stock, but I wouldn't run away from it. My expectation is that the earnings are good and the holiday season is once again kind to Apple," said Max Wolff, chief economist at Disruptive Technology Advisers. The stock has rallied more than 45 percent this year.

"That being said, there are real and serious problems with iOS 11. ... The problem is that's on all the phones, so people have tended to associate that with the [iPhone] 8 and the [iPhone] 8 plus only, but it's also obviously on the 10. We think the 10 is going to be a big hit. The question is more, if the 8 and 8 plus are a little bit of a fizzle," Wolff added.

Gene Munster, partner at Loup Ventures and a widely followed Apple watcher, wrote in a recent note that the iPhone X will be a "make or break" story for the tech giant's shares over the next year.

The stock hit an all-time in Tuesday trading.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Trading Nation is a multimedia financial news program that shows investors and traders how to use the news of the day to their advantage. This is where experts from across the financial world – including macro strategists, technical analysts, stock-pickers, and traders who specialize in options, currencies, and fixed income – come together to find the best ways to capitalize on recent developments in the market. Trading Nation: Where headlines become opportunities.

Brian Sullivan

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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