Apple stock pulled back again today, weighing heavily on the S&P 500 with its 2.5% decline to $90.19 per share. The stock has not done well since the iPhone maker’s last earnings report, in which it reported its first-ever iPhone unit decline. So is this a good time to buy Apple stock now that it’s pulling back? Most analysts would say yes.
Tim Cook does little to reassure investors
Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi told CNBC‘s Squawk Alley that although Apple CEO Tim Cook does manage to calm investors initially, the after-effects of him appearing on TV do not last long. He wrote in a research report that since taking the helm of the iPhone maker, Cook has made seven major appearances, and while Apple stock bounced the day after six of the seven appearances, it underperformed the S&P 500 for three months after all seven appearances.
The last time Cook was on television was on May 2 when he was interviewed on CNBC’s Mad Money. Since the beginning of the month, Apple stock has declined, while the S&P 500 increased modestly.
Sacconaghi observed that rather than buying the iPhone maker’s shares after Cook has been on TV, a better strategy is to purchase around share repurchase news. He said any meaningful acceleration in share repurchases has signaled a significant increase in the shares. For example, he said the last time Apple doubled the amount it plans to spend buying back shares, its stock greatly outperformed the S&P for four to seven months by 20 percentage points.
UBS trims price target for Apple stock
In a report dated May 11, UBS analyst Steven Milunovich said he cut his price target for Apple stock from $120 to $115 per share as he lowered his estimates for iPhone growth. A key topic right now is the length of upgrade cycles, and analysts from multiple firms have observed that these cycles appear to be elongating.
Milunovich described the iPhone 6 as being “unusually well received” with about 37% of the installed base entering fiscal 2015 with a new iPhone. He said this has had heavy implications for fiscal 2016 as the upgrade rate is expected to be much lower at 25%. As a result, he suggests that investors focus on the upgrade cycle by looking at each fiscal year rather than the individual phones themselves. He estimates that the average iPhone user keeps their iPhone for about 2.5 years before upgrading.
For fiscal 2017, he expects a return to unit growth with about a 4% increase, and he’s not projecting another breakout year until fiscal 2018. He estimates that 45% of the consumers who bought iPhones in fiscal 2015 will upgrade in fiscal 2017.
Milunovich isn’t the only one to suggest that the iPhone 7 cycle won’t be the next big breakout cycle as most expect. We’ve heard reports that the iPhone 7 won’t be the massive upgrade the iPhone 6 was and that Apple’s next big upgrade to features won’t come until the iPhone that will be released in 2017.