The big story around Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock has been demand for the iPhone, especially when this is expected to be the first “non-S” year without a major upgrade. Analysts have long been trying to reassure investors about the iPhone 7 will do OK and possibly even bring a return to growth. Now one analyst has bumped up his price target for his increased outlook for the iPhone 7… but not for the reason you think.
Apple stock price target to $117
RBC Capital Markets analyst Amit Daryanani bumped his target for Apple stock up from $115 to $117 per share after increasing his estimate for iPhone units in the December quarter. He adjusted his target price because he expects the company to sell more iPhones in the quarter than he was previously expecting.
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However, it’s not because he suddenly expects the iPhone 7 to do much better than what most of Wall Street expects. It’s because he has learned that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s first fiscal quarter (the December quarter) has an extra week than usual. He noted that usually Apple’s December quarter has 13 weeks but explains that this year the quarter will have 14 weeks instead.
What the extra week means for AAPL
The analyst expects the extra week to bring in sales of an extra 5 million to 6 million iPhone units and make it easier for the company to see a return to unit growth in fiscal 2017. As a result, he now pegs the number of iPhone units for the December quarter at about 79 million units, which is about a 6% increase from last year. His estimate is now higher than the consensus of 74 million units. He expects December quarter revenues to come in at $78 billion, well ahead of the consensus of $73.1 billion. His earnings per share estimate for the quarter is $3.29, compared to the consensus of $3.10 per share.
He noted that having one extra week is only a transient positive impact and actually will make the quarter over quarter decline between December and March look worse than usual. However, he sees the extra week as making his model “look more attractive” with year over year growth for iPhone units returning for the first time in the December quarter.
Additionally, he said the extra week should add between 200 and 300 basis points of incremental growth in fiscal 2017 looking at a year over year basis.
Apple stock to keep moving higher
Daryanani believes Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock will keep moving higher for the foreseeable future because the company does face easier year over year comparisons. Additionally, the iPhone 7 launch is expected next month, and there are signs that the company’s gross margins are stabilizing or possibly improving.
He noted that sentiment on Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock has improved in the wake of the iPhone maker’s June beat and raise quarter. He said investors are becoming more comfortable that the company’s story is intact, especially in terms of gross margins and channel inventory. He added that channel inventory dynamics from the June quarter should have alleviated concerns about iPhone units, average selling prices and gross margins for the second half of the year.
Shares of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock edged higher by as much as 0.46% to $108.50 during regular trading hours on Thursday.