Apple Inc.: Will F2017 Really Bring A Return To iPhone Growth?

Apple Inc.: Will F2017 Really Bring A Return To iPhone Growth?
<a href="">ElisaRiva</a> / Pixabay

Apple is scheduled to release its next earnings report on July 26 after closing bell, and analysts have been cautioning that investors may still be expecting too much—even though estimates have already come down. Baird and Nomura analysts are especially concerned about Apple’s guidance for the September quarter. They also disagree about whether fiscal 2017 will bring a return to growth for iPhone units.

Is Wall Street expecting too much from Apple?

In a report dated July 20, Baird analyst William Power said he projects earnings of $1.37 per share on $42 billion in revenue, both of which are slightly behind the Street. For the fourth quarter, he’s quite a bit behind consensus, however. He pegs Apple’s earnings at $1.47 per share and revenue at $43.4 billion, against the consensus estimates of $1.64 per share and $46.3 billion.

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He adds that consensus points to nearly a 10% sequential increase in revenue between the June and September quarters, compared to his 3% estimated increase. In four of the last five years, the increase has been in the low single digits, on average. Apple also faces other problems this year, including currency headwinds, an elongating upgrade cycle for smartphones and questions about how well the iPhone 7 will do in light of the appearance that it may be only a small incremental upgrade.

Unlike much of Wall Street, which expects a return to growth for iPhone shipments in fiscal 2017, Power expects them to decline. However, he still likes Apple’s long-term opportunities, and he maintains his Outperform rating and $115 price target on its stock.

iPhone SE changing the shape of June quarter

Nomura analyst Jeffrey Kvaal is estimating adjusted earnings of $1.41 per share on $42.16 billion in revenue for Apple’s June quarter. He agrees with Power that estimates for the September quarter might be too high. He’s projecting earnings of $1.50 per share on $43.13 billion in revenue. However, he adds that it looks like investor expectations for Apple are finally catching up.

He disagrees with Power on the topic of iPhone unit shipments for fiscal 2017. He’s projecting a return to growth on the back of the iPhone 7 as he expects between 5% and 10% growth in units for the next fiscal year, which begins in October.

Like other analysts, he also noted that the iPhone SE appears to be outperforming expectations, and as a result, volumes and average selling prices will be different this time around. He is part of the growing camp that believes the iPhone SE is cannibalizing the iPhone 6s. He’s now projecting 42 million iPhone units for the June quarter, compared to the consensus of 40 million. For the December quarter, he projects 42 million units, against the consensus of 43 million. In terms of average selling prices, he’s looking for $584 and $599 for the June and September quarters, respectively, compared to the consensus of $612 and $618.

He believes iPhone demand will steady in the December quarter thanks to the iPhone 7.

Apple shares closed up 0.09% at $99.96 on Wednesday.

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