Apple Inc. (AAPL) PT Lowered by Mizuho on Weaker iPhone Shipments

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Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) will report results on Tuesday, April 23. Analysts at Mizuho Securities expect March results to be slightly below consensus primarily due to weaker iPhone shipments. June guidance will likely be meaningfully below consensus. Mizuho believes that growth investors are unlikely to view Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) as a potential investment in the near-term whereas the company is an attractive asset for value investors. The analysts are expecting management to announce meaningful dividend growth and significant increase in buybacks along with the earnings announcement.

Apple Inc. (AAPL) PT Lowered by Mizuho on Weaker iPhone Shipments

Reiterating Buy rating while lowering their price target to $550 from $575. Mizuho has lowered their price target due to reduction in their estimates for FY13 and FY14. They still view Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) as a good investment for value investors who would find its sticky customer base, large application ecosystem, strong cash flows, and healthy balance sheet appealing.

F2Q13 revenues and EPS to be slightly below consensus. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s F2Q13 revenues and EPS will likely be in the $41-42B and $9.50-10.00 range, which compares with consensus of $42.7B and $10.11. Expectations are for the quarter’s iPhone shipments to be ~31-32M versus consensus of ~35-36M. However, the shortfall due to iPhone sales should be partially offset by slight upside to iPads. For profitability, they expect the company to deliver results within management’s outlook.

F3Q13 estimate reduction largely baked in the expectations and stock price. The analysts believe that there is material downside to June estimates due to the timing of the iPhone refresh. They expect the company to indicate iPhone shipments around 22-23M versus consensus of ~30M.

However, the new iPhone, iPhone 5S and potentially a cheaper iPhone, should be launched in the June/July time-frame, which would help push September estimates higher. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s June revenue and EPS outlook will likely be in the $34-36B and $7.75-8.25 range versus consensus of $39B and $9.23.

More important than ever for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) leverage its balance sheet to unlock shareholder value. Many shareholders believe that a meaningful dividend growth and increased share buybacks are overdue. Given the company’s lack of earnings growth in FY13 and at best a single digit rise in EPS in FY14 in the absence of any new product categories, Mizuho believes growth investors are likely to remain uninterested in the stock in the near term.

Management needs to show its openness to unlock shareholder value by leveraging its balance sheet to make the stock more attractive to value investors. The analysts expect the company to make some announcement to this regard along with the earnings release.

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