Apple Still A Buy Because Of The Upcoming iPhone 8 Super-Cycle

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Is Wall Street finally tapped out on price target increases for Apple? Several firms boosted their targets yet again due to the upcoming iPhone 8, and now we appear to have entered a relative quiet period. Of course that doesn’t mean analysts have stopped chattering about the so-called “iPhone 8 super-cycle.”

Apple to have almost 1 billion iPhone users in 2019

In a note dated May 23, Credit Suisse analyst Kulbinder Garcha reiterated his Outperform rating and $170 target price on Apple stock as he continues to look forward to the “iPhone 8 super-cycle.” He still expects this year’s iPhone cycle to drive unit growth over multiple years. He’s also still convinced that Apple will be able to successfully introduce new higher pricing tiers and come out with an improved product mix.

The analyst estimates that the company’s installed base has doubled since 2013 and is now nearly 700 million users. After combining that massive installed base with the high retention rate Apple has enjoyed for years, he feels that the iPhone 8 “will unleash pent-up demand” that will push units to 229 million shipments this year, 250 million next year, and 270 million in 2019. He expects the iPhone installed base to grow to 775 million this year, 890 million by the end of 2018, and 970 million by the end of 2019.

iPhone 8 to have higher bill of materials

If the iPhone 8 does end up having the many high-end features most expect it to have, it will surely come with a higher bill of materials. However, he feels that Apple has multiple levers it can pull to offset the higher materials cost, such as a better product mix. He believes that 45% to 50% of the total iPhone 8 units sold in the second half of this year could end up being the most expensive OLED model. Last year, 40% of iPhone units were the 7 Plus.

Most are expecting the OLED-equipped iPhone 8 to also come with a higher price, most likely in excess of $1,000 at the high end. Garcha’s estimates are lower than most, however, and he feels his estimates are conservative. He pegs the iPhone 7s at $670, the iPhone 7s Plus at $770, and the iPhone 8 at $900. His average selling price estimates stand at $676 for this year, $704 for next year and $676 in 2019, putting him on the low end as far as analyst estimates go.

He also notes that Apple’s Services growth should provide some support.

When will the iPhone 8 be fully priced into Apple stock?

Wall Street is so focused on the iPhone 8 as Apple’s “next big thing” that investors should hope that the company doesn’t disappoint. In a note to investors Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi, Jr. said one of the six top questions he’s been getting recently about the company is how high its stock can go and when the iPhone 8 is fully priced in. He doesn’t feel that it is and has been advising investors to revisit their positions when or if the stock hits $172 and/ or when the iPhone 8 launches in September. Interestingly, Sacconaghi has a $160 price target on the stock.

Investors have also apparently been asking him about whether the phone will be delayed, and he says no one knows. In fact, he says it probably doesn’t even matter anyway unless Apple isn’t able to reach volume levels by the middle of November. He may be right about that. There isn’t much the company could do wrong, except maybe come up short on technology, but even then, there have been plenty of jokes made by Android fans about how Apple makes last year’s tech hip today. And even in the case of a delayed iPhone 8, analysts could probably drum up enough support among investors as a temporary stopgap until it arrives.

Shares of Apple stock ticked lower by as much as 0.23% to $153.64 during regular trading hours on Tuesday.

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