Merrill Lynch has returned a buy rating ahead of Apple's earnings report due later today.

In a research note issued by the investment management firm said: "We think Apple has got its act together in focusing on core markets, building a mature management team and, most important, innovating again." The note predicts that Apple stores are likely to be profitable in the current quarter, driven by the company’s retail strategy.

According to a Forbes report merchant bank Thomas Weisel Partners also raised it's rating on the stock to Outperform.

Following the rating changes Apple rose 50 cents to trade at $24.24.

CBS Marketwatch notes that Apple was one of the few tech stocks to advance on Tuesday as sellers dominated the market and sent the Nasdaq Composite Index down almost 23 points to 2,089.