Although the Apple Watch’s features weren’t good enough to impress most analysts, the pricing structure of the smartwatch certainly is. As a result, several have raised their estimates, and some have bumped up their price targets.
Still others say they care more about what Apple is going to do with its cash hoard than they do about how well the Apple Watch sells.
Analysts impressed about Apple Watch prices
Among the analysts who raised their price targets for Apple are Nomura analysts Stuart Jeffrey and Michel Dilmanian and Evercore ISI analysts Rob Cihra and Edison Yu. The Nomura team moved their target price from $123 to $129 per share, while the Evercore team upped its target from $140 to $160 per share.
Analysts from multiple firms agree that the high prices of the Apple Watch suggest there will be an upside surprise for margins and average selling price. The smartwatch starts out at $349, as Apple management said in the fall when they introduced it. The most expensive 18-karat gold models are priced at $10,000 and above, however.
Estimating the Apple Watch’s ASP
Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty and her team said in a report this week that the average selling price for the Apple Watch could go as high as $618 for the first 12 months. Their previous estimate had been only $450. To come up with their new estimate, they’re assuming a 1% penetration of the Swiss luxury watch market, which moves about 30 million units per year.
The Evercore team estimates that the average selling price of the Apple Watch will only go as high as $535, although that’s also an increase from their previous estimate of $500. They expect the least expensive Sport model to make up two-thirds of the product mix.
For the 2015 calendar year, the Evercore team projects sales of more than 18 million Apple Watch units. By early next year, they believe the Apple Watch attach rate to the iPhone’s installed base will reach 5%. They believe Apple’s smartwatch could end up being the only successful mainstream smartwatch and suggest that China could be an especially strong market for the watch.
On the far low end of estimates for average selling price of the watch are Susquehanna analysts Chris Caso and Liz Pate, who are projecting a price of $400. They’re expecting to see Apple produce between 4 million and 6 million Apple Watch units during the June quarter and between 20 million and 25 million during all of this year.
Apple Watch features less impressive
The Nomura team said they weren’t very impressed with the features of the Apple Watch. They think there is more room to improve technologies in health monitoring saying, that the capabilities in this area “do not seem well developed.”
They think the apps that were showcased during this week’s event are easier to use on an iPhone than on the Apple Watch. However, they expect this to change with future models.
What about Apple’s cash?
Apple management promised another announcement on the subject of cash return next month. The Nomura and Susquehanna teams both said they’re anxious to see what Apple will do with all the cash it is sitting on.
The Susquehanna analysts say if Apple keeps returning over 90% of its free cash flow to investors, it would mean the company will buy back approximately $80 billion worth of shares in the next couple of years. They estimate that buybacks of that amount would be accretive to Apple’s earnings per share by $1.20 during this time frame.
The Nomura team believes Apple may reaccelerate its share repurchase pace unless it makes some sort of major acquisition. However, they also think much of any reacceleration in cash return is already priced into Apple stock.
As of this writing, shares of Apple were down by 1.28% to $122.91 per share.