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Apple: 3 paths to $325+ per share

A Morgan Stanley analyst offers one scenario where AAPL could hit $435 by 2012

In a report to clients issued Friday, Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty offered one of her patented risk-reward snapshots of Apple (aapl), this one even more optimistic than the last, thanks to what she sees as two new catalysts:

  • The iPad launch in March. Huberty is anticipating unit sales of 6 million in calendar 2010, considerably higher than the Street's consensus of 3-4 million
  • New iPhones in June. She's expecting new models that offer "both a lower total cost of ownership and new functionality, potentially including gesture-based technology"

Huberty offers her usual three scenarios -- bull, base and bear -- but leans heavily toward the bull, describing three paths to share prices as much as 115% above Apple's closing price Thursday of $202 per share.

Her three "bull scenario" paths:

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  1. Broader global carrier distribution gives Apple a 10% share of the total global handset market (not just smartphones) by fiscal 2012. By her math: 12 times the iPhone's fiscal 2012 EPS of $32 + 10 times Apple's core EPS of $5 = $435 per share.
  2. Lower-end device and/or service plans give Apple 15% of the global handset market share and an average carrier subsidy of $200 per unit. 12 x fiscal 2012 iPhone EPS of $25 + 10 x core EPS of $5 = $358/share.
  3. The iPhone sells unsubsidized, broadening Apple’s TAM (total addressable market) and placing it in a position to grab 33% of the worldwide handset market. 12 x fiscal 2012 iPhone EPS of $23 + 10 x core EPS of $5 = $325/share.

Huberty's less optimistic scenarios are still pretty rosy.

  • Base case scenario: $250/share. Broader iPhone distribution doubles market share by fiscal 2012. Apple sells 6 million iPads and adds $1 to its EPS of $13.20 in calendar 2010. Multiple of 19x, which is the low-end of Apple's historical range.
  • Bear case scenario: $180/share. iPhone shipments and gross margins come under pressure due to carrier subsidy pushback. iPhone units rise to 35M units in calendar 2010 but iPhone gross margins fall closer to 50%. Market multiple on EPS of $12.

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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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