Apple, undoubtedly the greatest turnaround story of the last decade, is now witnessing its investors raise question about the future. The iPhone maker’s share prices have tumbled from $705 in September 2012 to about $442 today. Jeff Gundlach, DoubleLine Capital CEO predicts prices to decline further to $425.
Is Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s growth story over? No, that’s what Sterne Agee senior analyst Shaw Wu thinks.
Sterne Agee maintains a Buy rating on Apple stock with price target of $715. Shaw Wu said in his latest research report that it’s time for Apple to think differently and change its business strategy to regain the market share. But what does he mean by “think differently”?
Wu cited two factors the company has to address. One, Apple is all about high-end leadership which the company is losing slowly because iPhone 5 is no longer viewed as high end product. Two, the company needs to get more aggressive in the mid-range. Thankfully, Sterne Agee said it sees evidences of progress in both aspects.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has long shied away from introducing larger touchscreen devices. Even when the Android partners like HTC Corp (TPE:2498), Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94), Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc (NYSE:MMI) and others started building larger touchscreen smartphones, it looked like a risky attempt. Many of those devices were ridiculed initially as too big. But these smartphones ended up being a bigger success stories than anybody had expected.
In most of the markets, the 5.5-inch Samsung Galaxy Note II and 4.8-inch Galaxy S III have become new high-end products. Apple’s iPhone is seen as a mid-range product with a high-end price in those markets. The Galaxy S4 which is expected to be launched in April this year, will have a 5-inch screen.
Yes, bigger is better. Apple is leaving money on the tablet by not participating in larger touchscreen devices. Of course, the iTunes, iOS and App Store are great, but the market proves that a large number of customers want bigger screens. Analysts see iPad Mini as such an effort.
Sterne Agee said that they don’t want Apple to enter the low-end market, but they do want the company to address the mid-range better. The iPhone 4 and 4S are highly desired in the mid-range market, but they aren’t as widely available as they should be. Apple admitted during a conference that the company is constrained by its supply. But Sterne Agee believes that it has nothing to do with component supplies. Apple Inc. has scaled back manufacturing capacity of iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S in favor of iPhone 5.
Entering the mid-range would lower Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s margins. Many fear that lower margins would affect investor sentiments. But Sterne Agee said investors would openly accept lower margins if there is sustainable top-line growth. We have already seen that with Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG).