Apple shares just didn’t have enough juice to make it back to $100 today, but they came pretty close, topping $99 just briefly this morning. At lease the tech giant’s stock is on the plus side today (at least for now), as they are currently up 1.47% at $97.87 per share as of this writing with about an hour left of regular trading on Friday.
Apple price target cut by Pacific Crest
Analysts have continued to weigh in on this second rash of reports that Apple has again cut its iPhone orders, although the general consensus on the company is still that the company’s stock is a Buy. Indeed, the theme of weak iPhone demand has become a common one of late, but analysts aren’t willing to give up on this Wall Street darling – no matter how long this trend lasts.
In a report dated Jan. 7, Pacific Crest analyst Andy Hargreaves said he has again reduced his iPhone unit estimates for fiscal 2016, pushing it down from 236 million to 213 million. He said this reduction suggests that the iPhone 6s cycle is seeing a lower trough and results in a reduction in his price target from $142 to $132 per share. His new earnings estimate for the year is $8.63 per share, down from $9.50.
Great expectations for the iPhone 7
Of course it would be a huge shock for Apple not to release a new iPhone in a given year, although this time around, rumors point to a new low-end version sometime in either the second or third quarter. Hargreaves doesn’t believe this will change the company’s profit outlook much, although it could offer a “modest boost to low-end volume.” In general though, he doesn’t expect the so-called “iPhone 6c,” or whatever it might be called if it exists, to be very meaningful to overall profits in either fiscal 2016 or fiscal 2017.
The analyst agrees with most other analysts in believing that soon Wall Street will forget all about the weak iPhone 6s demand and focus instead on the iPhone 7, which is expected in September. He think it’s extremely likely that Apple will see strong growth in its next lineup, possibly with replacement sales driving a 40 million unit increase for fiscal 2017 compared to fiscal 2016. Further, he suggests that total iPhone units could grow in the double digits in fiscal 2017, even if there is a large decline in sales to new users because of saturation in the market.
Apple looks attractive
Hargreaves likes Apple’s valuation and the stickiness of its platform, which he believes will make the risk / reward profile “attractive.” Currently the stock trades at 5 times fiscal 2016 EBITDA, which is far below the company’s mega-cap peers. He also thinks the current valuation undervalues the loyalty of the company’s user base and the iPhone’s “extraordinary utility.”
He added that a catalyst could take time to develop, however, although he expects Apple shares to appreciate throughout this year.