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Monday, November 26, 2012, 08:17 am PT (11:17 am ET)

Citi initiates coverage of Apple stock with 'buy' rating, $675 target

Citi Research began covering Apple stock on Monday, and kicked things off with a note to investors projecting a $675 target price with a recommendation to buy.

Citi's price target implies an expected return of about 20 percent from AAPL stock. The firm noted that shares of Apple slid 28 percent on a "correction" that began on Sept. 21, which put it in line with past corrections in its own history, as well as those of its peers.

Year-over-year growth at Apple is expected to stabilize in the first half of 2013, which Citi believes would set the company's stock on course for the $675 price target.

But that price is also 11 percent below the consensus price target for Apple on Wall Street. That's because Citi believes that the risks for Apple "are increasingly coming into focus."

Citi


"We assert that Apple's share of the smartphone market is at risk from low-end smartphones and competition from other ecosystems," they wrote. "We see upside from tablets, but this negatively impacts (gross margins)."

Rather than have a lead analyst assigned to Apple, as most other investment firms currently do, Citi has opted to take a "unique team approach" in its Apple coverage. That strategy involves semiconductor analyst Glen Yeung, software analyst Walter Pritchard, and hardware analyst Jim Suva.

"This reflects Apple's broad impact to the technology supply chain and allows us to uniquely follow the company from several industry angles," Citi explained in a note to investors on Monday.