Is it time to sound the death knell on Apple stock and pronounce the company the next BlackBerry, as Joel Greenblatt said recently? It’s interesting that the same analyst report can generate totally opposite headlines, depending on who wrote the article. It’s all about how you spin it.
Apple stock is cheap… if it’s not the next BlackBerry
UBS analyst Steven Milunovich said in a report dated June 7 that although it’s possible for Apple stock to fall to $70 per share, that would be a worst-case scenario in which the iPhone maker goes the way of BlackBerry. He also sees the current level at around $100 per share as a sort of floor on the stock for now.
The UBS analyst was responding to a quote from Apple expert Horace Dediu, who said recently that the current price of Apple stock assumes that the company’s ecosystem “will erode.” According to Milunovich, looking at a discounted cash flow model, it’s “reasonable” to consider that the shares will fall to $70, but he added that this would only occur in a “BlackBerry situation.” He said it’s reasonable to see this as a possibility because of the size of Apple’s iPhone volumes and its recent struggle to keep hardware margins as high as they’ve been. He also references the PC market, considering that if the iPhone ends up declining like PCs have at an annual pace of 5% to 10%, it could mean trouble for Apple.
Apple stock to $195?
However, he also clarifies this by saying that he thinks this view is “probably too negative.” He estimates that investors are currently pricing in little growth or a small decline in iPhone unit sales. Further, he said that if any of the company’s new products are even 25% to 50% as successful as the iPhone, then there could be upside as high as $130 to $160 per share for Apple stock.
In the most bullish case scenario, the UBS analyst said Apple stock could go as high as $170 to $195 per share if the company is able to get one-quarter of its iPhone revenue with new hardware and also successfully launch the car it has been rumored to be working on for some time. For now, he believes the shares will remain range-bound, although he has a Buy rating and $115 per share price target on them.
Where could Apple go next?
For now, analysts are hanging their hats on the iPhone 7 as multiple surveys suggest growth could be enormous as we’re coming up on two years since the massive iPhone 6 lineup. Investors are being cautious because of concerns that the iPhone 7 won’t have enough interesting features to convince consumers to upgrade, although analysts are trying to convince them that it doesn’t matter whether the phone has upgrade-worth features. Most seem to believe that consumers will upgrade simply because they’re eligible for an upgrade.
Drexel Hamilton analyst Brian White said in a report dated June 8 that he believes “the ‘gloom and doom’ sentiment engulfing the Apple story has reached extreme levels this year.” He also sees Apple stock as offering “an exceptional value.” He said his research at Computex last week pointed to signs of growth expectations for the iPhone 7 in the company’s supply chain.
In terms of where the iPhone maker might go next, he sees virtual reality and personal robots as being two areas it could expand in over the next few years. He described the company as “one of the few companies that can leverage its unique position to capitalize on new industries” such as electric cars, robotics, smart homes and wearables, TV, and virtual and augmented reality.