Apple Inc. Vs., Inc. : A Serious Shift In 2016

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We are now on the second trading day of the New Year, and as is often the case when experts speak on CNBC, Amazon and Apple shares are fulfilling the prophecy given by one speaker. Speaking Monday on CNBC, ARK Invest CEO and Chief Investment Officer Cathie Wood said she expected Amazon shares to reverse course and decline this year while Apple shares will also reverse course and increase.

Source: Google Finance

Amazon beat Apple in 2015

Last year Amazon was the clear winner in the race of the stocks with Apple. The stock ended 2015 in the red, marking the first time they have done this in seven years. Meanwhile Amazon stock doubled in value even though Wood believes both impressed the tech community with their innovation. This year, however, she believes Apple will pretty significantly outperform the broader market and Amazon will either be in line with the market or else just slightly ahead.

After declining from the $650 range on Monday, Amazon shares ended the regular trading day in the $630s. Today the stock continued to decline, falling by as much as 0.79% to $632.05 in what was a broad selloff of high-flying tech stocks. Apple shares started out Monday in the negative but then rallied, climbing to around their closing price on Dec. 31. However, the stock is on track to erase those gains, falling by as much as 1.2% to $104.09.

Apple needs a catalyst

Wood told CNBC that in order for Apple shares to go on a tear, a catalyst is needed. She suggested that the iPhone upgrade plan just might be the catalyst investors need to become more constructive on the consumer gadget maker. Investors haven’t really responded much to the upgrade plan yet, despite analysts’ best efforts to build hype and convince them that it’s the ticket to Apple’s future growth.

This could change, however, if or when the iPhone maker is able to report success from the program. Investors want to see cold, hard numbers that support the program and demonstrate that it will spur growth. Further, it creates a recurring revenue stream, and Wood believes investors might start to see the iPhone maker as more like Netflix, which survives and thrives on subscriptions.

Apple like Netflix? Seems unlikely

This seems like a bit of a stretch though, as Apple is, in essence, a device-focused company. Investors have rewarded Microsoft and other tech companies which have demonstrated that they can build successful recurring revenue streams, but these revenue streams do not change the essence of these firms. Indeed, having recurring revenue streams is important as tech firms move into the law of large numbers and investors clamor for growth in spite of their huge size, but until subscriptions become the main source of growth, a comparison with Netflix seems very unlikely.

The iPhone has been the source of most of Apple’s revenue, and that won’t change any time soon. If it works, the upgrade program will spur yearly upgrades rather than upgrades every two years, which has been the trend because mobile carriers have been offering two-year cycles. It will be interesting to see how the tech giant reports the subscription revenue in its earnings releases because it could be argued that the revenue supports iPhone sales even though it comes through a monthly fee.

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