SAN FRANCISCO — In the end, Monday was a pretty good day for Apple shares.
But it could have been better.
The stock ended up 1.3% to $96.45, outstripping gains in the Nasdaq Composite, after two major investment banks distributed bullish notes on the shares about a week ahead of Apple's earnings.
On the downside was a warning from Taiwan research outfit KGI Securities. Analyst Ming-chi Kuo released a report, cited by the websites AppleInsider and MacRumors, that Apple may have to delay launch of a larger 5.5-inch "iPhone 6" — dubbed the "phablet" by some tech journalists — because of manufacturing delays related to an "in-cell" touch screen and metal casing.
Launch of a smaller version of the "iPhone 6" is expected to keep to an expected fall launch, said Kuo, according to AppleInsider. But the larger version might be delayed until 2015.
Representatives for Apple and KGI did not respond to requests for comment.
In recent years Apple has typically unveiled new iPhones in September.
The hoopla this time around isn't all about the iPhone. Tim Cook is expected to trot out a much anticipated iWatch. Strong demand for an Apple smart-watch, which would catch up to some non-Apple device- makers, and demand for earlier versions of the iPhone, prompted Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty on Monday to lift her price target on the stock to $110 from $99. She also hiked sales and profit forecasts.
"We view the Apple 'halo effect' rather than the current watch market as the more accurate predictor of iWatch sales," she wrote in a research report.
Barclays Capital's Ben Reitzes also got sweeter on the shares, raising his price target on the stock to $110 from $95, citing renewed enthusiasm for the company's strategy under Cook. He also lifted his recommendation to overweight.
Apple is scheduled to report earnings for its June quarter after the close Tuesday, July 22. Analysts on average expect $1.22 a share.