Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) may not be a growth stock any longer, although some analysts argue that it should be or will be again in the near future. Growth continues to be a sticking point for bears when it comes to Apple, but bulls see things a bit differently.
Examining the bull thesis on Apple
Analyst Toni Sacconaghi and the rest of the team at Bernstein Research hosted a conference call to talk about both sides of the argument over Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). They note that the company’s revenue more than tripled between 2009 and 2012 but then slowed as earnings per share began to decline. They say because of how much weight the company carriers in the Russell Growth Index, it is still mostly owned by growth managers.
On their conference call, they noted four main points to the bullish argument for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). First, the company has a premium global brand with “high repeat purchase intention.” They also note that the company has exposure in “attractive end markets, which are in the middle innings of their evolution. Third, they see “significant option value” for new products as Apple innovates and leverages its current iOS user base. An fourth, they say the company’s valuation looks “compelling” from several metrics.
Analyzing the bear case for Apple
The Bernstein team also noted four main arguments from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) bears and what’s interesting is that all four of them are growth-related. Indeed, it’s worth questioning just how much the apparent transition from a growth stock to a “trading stock,” as Bernstein calls it, is damaging Apple’s stock price.
The first argument deals with the hardware industry as a whole, which has been a “very challenged industry.” Second, bears note that the iPhone makes up 65% of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s gross profits and probably will not deliver profit growth. Also the company’s massive $170 billion revenue base makes it difficult for the company to grow, and even if Apple does have a new product with success that is similar to the iPad, they say it won’t have “a transformational impact.” And fourth, bears say Apple’s valuation isn’t reasonable because of declining revenue and gross profits.
Bernstein remains bullish on Apple
Bernstein analysts say it’s unclear whether Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s revenues and earnings per share will be higher in three or five years, but they like the company’s stock for now because they see “opportunity for incremental cash return and excitement about new product categories and larger screen iPhones.”
The firm continues to rate Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) as Outperform with a $575 per share price target.