Apple’s new iPhone, which analysts have dubbed the iPhone 8, is days away from its grand public debut. Fans are excited but investors on Wall Street are downright euphoric–Apple shares are up 46% so far this year and recently hit an all-time high of almost $165. The stock closed at $161.26 on Thursday, amid reports that some models of the new phone might be in short supply.
Analysts are trying to figure out just how much higher Apple’s stock may go–if the stock hits about $194, Apple will become the first public company with a $1 trillion market value. That will likely depend on how many iPhones Apple sells in the third and fourth quarter after moving 45.5 million and 78.3 million, respectively, in those periods last year. With extensive rumors that the 2017 line up will include the first device with a significantly new design in three years, expectations are pretty high, at least for the end-of-year holiday shopping period.
Toni Sacconaghi at Bernstein Research is among those expecting a “super cycle” of iPhone sales thanks to pent up demand from upgraders. And he sees the stock rising to at least his target price of $175. “iPhone 8 will be the first new iPhone to be materially different than its predecessor since the iPhone 6, which triggered a strong increase in upgrade rate across Apple’s installed base,” Sacconaghi wrote in a report on Tuesday. He’s expecting iPhone sales to increase 2% to 46.4 million in the third quarter and then jump 16% for the next year to 251 million.
Apple (AAPL) could sell 46.5 million iPhones in the third quarter and 84 million for the big holiday quarter, according to Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Walkley. That would represent a 5% gain from the same six months of last year. “We believe with the likely launch of three new iPhones, Apple will increase market share and grow its share of industry profits,” Walkley wrote in a report last week. Shares of Apple could hit $180, he says.
Angelo Zino at CFRA sees a “record breaking” iPhone upgrade cycle, with fans eager to buy the high-end model even if costs around $1,000. “We currently expect the iPhone 8 to begin selling at $999 but think the price tag won’t impact consumers from buying the higher-priced phone,” Zino wrote on Tuesday. “When all is said and done, aggressive promotions by carriers will drop the up-front price while installment loans will make the price attainable for most.” Zino’s price target for the stock is $175.
Brian White at Drexel Hamilton is forecasting 45.4 million iPhone sales this quarter and 79.4 million for the holiday shopping quarter.
“We continue to believe Apple’s stock will not only benefit from the upcoming iPhone cycle but also the company’s capital distribution initiative, attractive valuation and potential new innovations,” White noted in a report on Thursday. “As such, we do not believe Apple’s run will end with next week’s iPhone event but still has attractive upside potential as we are projecting with our $208 price target.”
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The new models could attract more buyers who currently use an Android phone than previous iPhones, said William Power of Baird Equity Research.
“Everyone expects strong iPhone upgrades, but our latest iPhone survey also points to likely share gains from Android, as a larger percentage of current Android users are planning to purchase an iPhone compared to our previous year surveys,” Power wrote in a September 5 report. But Power foresees only modest gains for shareholders, placing his price target at $172.
Some analysts are concerned that manufacturing difficulties during the summer will limit the available quantity of the new high-end phone for months. Following similar recent reports, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that supplies of the new phones could be tight leading to “extended supply shortfalls and shipping delays.”
“Supply constraints on Apple’s OLED iPhone are likely to prevent meaningful demand indicators in the coming months and limit near-term downside risk in the shares,” Andy Hargreaves at Keybanc Capital Markets wrote on Wednesday regarding some of the prior reports. “Beyond the near term, we expect high-end smartphone market saturation and elongating holding periods to limit profit growth and prevent outsized appreciation from current levels.”
Apple’s share may be overvalued, he warns. “We expect high-end smartphone market saturation and elongated holding periods to limit profit growth and prevent outsized appreciation from current levels,” Hargreaves wrote.