Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been getting many negative "reviews" from analysts lately and the stock is down close to 40% from its peak, but some are starting to see a brighter picture. Now investors can add Mizuho to the list of bulls. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is likely getting ready for refreshing its iPhone lineup over the next 3-5 months according to analysts at Mizuho Securities. Additionally, C1Q13 shipments are likely to be in-line with the current consensus of 35-40M. In terms of a cheaper iPhone, a product is possible later this year but it is unlikely to move the needle for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) unless it is done specifically for China Mobile. Mizuho expects Apple to announce a dividend increase and more buybacks within the next few weeks, which combined with the product refresh could act as a near-term catalyst for the stock. Further details from the Mizuho analysts below:
Channel checks reaffirm their view that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is preparing to refresh its iPhone lineup earlier this year than last year. While shipments in the March quarter are expected to experience a significant sequential drop, they expect a new version of iPhone in the June-July time frame. For the March quarter, channel checks are currently indicating that the company is likely to deliver total phone units in the 35-40M range, which is in-line with current consensus. For the June quarter, shipments will depend on the timing of the product refresh.
Cheaper iPhone a possibility later this year
While Mizuho conversations in Asia indicate that an iPhone with a larger screen is not likely to be launched this year, a cheaper version of the product is possible this year. Depending on how and where it is launched, a cheaper version of iPhone could cannibalize the current lineup at worst or be marginally accretive at best. It is unlikely to move the needle for the company unless it is designed specifically for China Mobile. They expect the company to launch a phone with a larger screen in 2014.
New product categories on the horizon but timing seems uncertain
Mizuho checks have yet to pick up anything specific about new product categories being planned by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). However, management’s recent commentary clearly indicates that it is working on some new categories that could be in the watch or TV segments. They believe that the company needs to prove its ability to create new product categories to attract growth investors back to its stock.
Mizuho is Reiterating Buy rating and $575 price target
Based on the timing of the announcements last year, they expect the company to announce a material growth in its quarterly dividend and a significant increase in its share buyback authorization over the next few weeks. Additionally, Mizuho believes a refresh of existing product categories could offer a near term boost to the stock while a new product category offers an option value at this price.
Credit Suisse also is out with a report today on Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL).Credit Suisse hosted a call with Peter Oppenheimer, and "found his tone confident, yet realistic". While the company did not disclose anything material on near term fundamentals, there are several longer term growth drivers that exist for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). they believe at current levels the stock is discounting an overly pessimistic scenario for the long term.
IPhone may not be as saturated as you think says Credit Suisse. Quoting IDC data the company noted that 45% of smartphones are now above the $400 price point; while growth may be stronger at the low end, the company still believes the high end of the smartphone market will grow. Management noted Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s ecosystem and lower churn will help drive iPhone platform growth. This fits with their own thesis initially discussed in Smartphones – High-end going higher that the high-end of the smartphone market is growing to unprecedented levels. Management confirmed the ability to add carriers over time, and the reasons for the slower pace of carrier additions last year was the ramp up period of the iPhone 5. They believe that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) can add an additional 65mn units through carrier expansion alone.