Apple stock remains near its record high, but analysts are resolved to push it ever higher. The problem is that every day brings another research note promising the most incredible phone you’ve ever seen. If Apple doesn’t deliver, its stock will probably pay the price. Then again, Apple stock wasn’t shaken by the report that the iPhone 8 could be delayed.
Apple stock target to $160
In a note dated March 10, Credit Suisse analyst Kulbinder Garcha boosted his price target for Apple stock from $150 to $160 per share and reiterated his Outperform rating. He says his iPhone 8 thesis is still intact based on his firm’s quarterly smartphone supply chain data.
The Credit Suisse Asia Tech Team found a slight reduction in iPhone builds this month which brought them to 47 million for the quarter. They project 40 million iPhone builds for the June quarter, compared with Garcha’s estimates of 54 million and 45 million iPhone shipments during the March and June quarters, respectively. However, he’s still comfortable with those estimates because of the timing of production and shipments.
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“Moderate” growth in iPhone 8
The Credit Suisse team pegs the initial build estimate for the iPhone 8 at 100 million to 110 million units, which Garcha said suggests “moderate” growth. He notes that this number will probably be revised multiple times because it’s early but he finds this number “reassuring.”
He seems to still be banking on the iPhone 8 having an OLED display, although we heard this week that the phone’s design isn’t final and it might not have one. Garcha believes that the mix of OLED iPhones could reach as high as 70%, although again, it’s so early that he expects much variation here. He noted that the iPhone 7 Plus made up 40% of new model shipments last year but adds that this indicates that if Apple really does reveal three new phones, the shift toward the highest-end model “could be material.” This would add up to an additional $1 per share in long-term earnings power, he added.
The analyst estimates that the bill of materials for the OLED iPhone will probably rise by $50 to $100, although he doesn’t expect an issue because he believes Apple will raise the price of the phone. We’ve heard reports that the iPhone 8 could be priced in excess of $1,000, but Garcha believes the base price will “only” be around $820 to $870 for the iPhone 8 Pro.
Apple stock is cheap
Looking at the P/E ex-cash multiple of 9.5 times, he said Apple stock looks cheap in light of the “material capital return, sustainable revenues, and a powerful ecosystem.” UBS analyst Steven Milunovich also stated in his March 9 research note that Apple has the lowest P/E of the tech mega caps.
He spoke with “Apple observer” Horace Dediu, who recently discussed monopolies in light of the company and its position. Dediu claims that the media is forever questioning Apple’s leadership. However, he seems convinced that Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Amazon are media darlings, calling them “unassailable fortresses” when it comes to media coverage.
For example, he pointed out that Apple has strong pricing power, as the average selling price of the iPhone neared $700 in the last quarter and climbed to a new record high even through currencies have been pressuring the company. All the reports about the iPhone 8 supposedly being priced at or around $1,000 indicate that Apple can indeed convince people to shell out all that money just by slapping its logo on something. Dediu notes that this is part of having a monopoly—being able to charge more because people want your products. Further, the company raked in 79% of smartphone industry profits last year despite holding a much smaller sliver of the shipment pie.
Shares of Apple stock edged upward by as much as 0.41% to $139.22 during regular trading hours on Friday.