Countdown to 9/9: What the Apple analysts were saying in advance

September 8, 2014, 9:47 PM UTC

Brian White, Canto Fitzgerald. Bigger, Broader and More Conflicted Than Ever – AAPL’s ‘Fab Fall.’ “What we view as the most widely anticipated new product unveiling in the tech world this year is now just over a week away, with Apple sending out invitations last Thursday for a special event on September 9. For the past six iPhone introductions, Apple’s stock outperformed the S&P 500 Index by 1.5% in the two weeks before the iPhone event and 0.7% between the event and release of the new iPhone, while underperforming in the one, two and four week periods following an iPhone release. This year, we also expect a new product category. We believe the next few months will prove to be the most exciting new product launch for Apple in many years and details around this ramp have been the most conflicted that we can remember.” Rating: Buy. Target price: $123.

Toni Sacconaghi, Bernstein: The Big Day is here: “While there is a nearly universal expectation that Apple will announce an iWatch, many things are not known about it – most importantly, we believe investors should focus on pricing (if announced), given likely demand elasticity, and the aesthetics of the device, given our belief that most smart watches today have been distinctively unattractive. While we believe that iWatch is not likely to be material for Apple’s financials (likely <5% EPS accretive), we do believe that it is important in shaping investors’ perceptions about innovation at the company, which could impact the stock’s multiple.” Outperform. $108

Katy Huberty, Morgan Stanley: Payments could be the next new service. “Apple wants to launch services that are critical to consumers, and ones that it can monetize, in our view. Payments make a lot of sense from this perspective. We believe payments could become a platform that is incorporated into many applications and that connects the physical and virtual worlds, similar to maps. From Apple’s perspective, a payment service could increase customer loyalty, create competitive differentiation, and generate new revenue streams.” Overweight. $110.

Gene Munster, Piper Jaffray: How AAPL Trades Into iPhone Events/Launches. “Based on historical trading patterns for AAPL shares into iPhone events and product launches, it appears that shares of AAPL could see some slight headwinds on both the day of the event and the day of the launch. Typical trading data suggests that shares of AAPL typically trade down slightly on iPhone event and launch days (note: historical performance does not guarantee future performance). We continue to believe that the iPhone 6 should be able to meet or exceed investor expectations and also note that the potential of an iWatch announcement on Tuesday could work as an additional positive catalyst. We continue to believe that those trying to play AAPL for iPhone 6 should own shares now until the launch and avoid the opening weekend numbers given difficult comps from the iPhone 5C channel fill. Overweight. $120.

Steve Milunovich, UBS: Enjoy the Show but Don’t Lose Sight of the Big Picture. “We think investors should stick with Apple despite the potential for a sell-on-the-news reaction. The upgrade cycle could exceed expectations at solid margins with 40% of US buyers let alone Asian consumers wanting larger screen handsets. In addition to Apple customer upgrades, we expect some market share gain from Android vendors… The 5.5″ iPhone 6 probably won’t ship immediately due to problems with in-cell touch, and the iWatch might not be available until next year. Investors should not care much as revenue gets evened out though consumers might need a 5.5″ phone for comparison purposes to make decisions.” Buy. $115.

Andy Hargreaves, Pacific Crest. We recommend taking profits in Apple. “We expect Apple to gain material share and see a higher rate of early upgrades through the iPhone 6 product cycle. However, we believe sales to new iPhone users will decline beyond the iPhone 6, which is likely to drive iPhone unit sales down in F2016. Anticipation of this is likely to drive multiple compression through F2015 as the iPhone 6 cycle progresses. Even if we stretch our estimates for F2015 iPhone units, the likelihood for multiple compression over that time suggests the majority of potential upside from iPhone 6 is priced into the shares.” Outperform.

Alex Gauna, JMP Securities: iPhone 6 Positioned to Prove the Strongest Upgrade Cycle in Apple History. “Our industry contacts and some of the insights that are spilling into the market are giving us the impression that it has gotten things right, is entering into the most powerful new product launch window in its history. Market outperform. $135.

Avi Silver, CLSA: iPhone6 pent-up demand. “What we find most intriguing from our smartphone deep dive (see accompanying industry note, Sam sung the blues) is increasing evidence of an elongating replacement cycle during the last nine months, setting Apple up nicely for the iPhone6 cycle. We have argued that Apple’s healthy iPhone units were driven from new user adoption and emerging markets, while developed markets extended the replacement cycle as they have been holding out for new form factors. The data from our smartphone report punctuates this. The flip side of that is huge pent-up demand for iPhone6, far better than consensus expectations.” Buy. $120.

Christopher C. Brendler, Stifel: Apple’s Unparalleled Payments Potential; Still Tough To Replace Cards. “In our view, Apple … is uniquely positioned to take a commanding lead in the digital wallet race. Although consumers to date have been very reluctant to use their phones at the point of sale (POS), we think Apple can “crack the code” to mass adoption through the combination of a powerful — and trusted — consumer brand, next gen security, and easy option through iTunes. However, plastic cards are a tough competitor and we think Apple will also need to continue its track record of very impressive consumer product innovation to be successful. Buy.

Below: Commentary on the commentariat by AAPL Sanity’s djt.


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