Apple Inc. Bears React To The iPhone 6S Event

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While most analysts were bullish on Apple’s big event, there were a few firms which were quite unimpressed with the iPhone 6S and other products revealed on Wednesday. Andy Hargreaves of Pacific Crest Securities and his team said the keynote fell “flatter than [the] new iPad.” Macquarie Research went so far as to say there was “more disappointments than positive surprises” and “nothing game changing.” They even reduced their revenue and earnings per share estimates for fiscal 2016.

Jefferies analysts trimmed their price target after the event.

iPhone 6S disappoints

The Pacific Crest team said the event lacked focus and that the announcements were in line with expectations with no surprises. They don’t think the iPhone 6S will drive as big of an upgrade cycle or such a high number of market share gains as the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus did, although they think it could spur “a normal level of upgrades,” whatever that means.

Macquarie Research analysts Ben Schachter and John Merrick were also not impressed with the iPhone 6S improvements, which they don’t see as being as impactful as last year’s increase in size. This differs widely from what the Wells Fargo team said about the addition of 3D Touch, which they see as being a huge upgrade along the lines of the addition of the Touch ID fingerprints scanner in the iPhone 5S.

Jefferies analyst Sundeep Bajikar and his team called the iPhone 6S “underwhelming,” although they liked the progress in the Apple Watch, iPad and Apple TV, unlike the other bears.

Apple TV a disappointment too

Apple management also showed off an Apple TV refresh as expected, with CEO Tim Cook emphasizing that apps are “the future of TV.” Hargreaves agrees with this view, but he doesn’t think the apps Apple showed are the ones that will be the future. He was especially bearish on the Apple TV part of the presentation, saying that he thinks it “almost completely missed the mark.”

He would rather have seen apps with “great TV shows in them,” adding that consumers probably are not interested in using their TVs to shop, look at the weather or do other tasks that are better on smartphones.

e questions Apple’s view on mobile-focused apps for the set-top box, suggesting that the box won’t have long-term potential in the TV market or that the company just “made a tactical mistake in the demonstration” of the box. The new Apple TV is also a gaming console, but Hargreaves doesn’t see much potential in this either. He said games on the box will remain “very casual” because of limits on the A8 chip that’s inside it.

The Macquarie team also found the Apple TV “interesting, but not revolutionary.” They see potential in casual gaming but weren’t impressed with the first titles. They also think the iPad Pro is too expensive and were not happy that the other iPads didn’t get any updates. Also they don’t see much potential for the Apple Watch because it isn’t a must-have gadget, and they don’t think Apple music matters for Apple stock.

iPad Pro fails to impress

Interestingly, Hargreaves also wasn’t impressed with the iPad Pro, which most other analysts view as important in Apple’s attempt to boost iPad sales and appeal to enterprise customers. He said it “looks good, but does not appear likely to be significantly incremental.” He said the demonstration showed off features that may appeal to a smaller subsection of potential users, but he also believes it might cannibalize sales of some current iPads and MacBooks.

The Macquarie analysts think the iPad Pro is too expensive and were disappointed that there weren’t any improvements to the rest of the iPad lineup.

Is Apple stock stuck?

Macquarie analysts believe Apple shares will remain stuck around their current price because of touch comparable iPhone unit sales this year. In the long term, however, they still think Apple’s ecosystem, smartphone dominance and innovative new devices will end up being compelling.

Jefferies actually said Apple is currently in transition. This is a bold statement for a company like Apple, as usually it is reserved for companies that are widely seen as struggling and that many think may not survive. They give the reasons for the transition as the maturation of the smartphone market, Android phones that are just as good or better than the iPhone, and increasing competition in China. Also they think investor expectations for the iPhone were too high and will likely come down now.

In spite of all these bearish comments, the Macquarie team still rates Apple at Outperform with a $133 per share price target. The Wells Fargo team rates Apple at Sector Perform. The Jefferies team rates Apple as a Hold and cut their price target from $130 to $126 per share following Wednesday’s event.

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