Since Apple shares hit an all-time record of over $176 a few weeks ago, Wall Street analysts have been growing more cautious. On Monday, several warned investors that even hot sales of new iPhones and the expected benefits of a big tax cut might not be enough to propel the shares much higher.
As the analysts weighed in, Apple’s stock declined slightly, losing 0.2% to $174.63 in early trading on Monday. That gave the company a stock market value of just under $900 billion. Analysts have said Apple’s share price needs to reach about $194 to give the company a headline-making $1 trillion value.
For the iPhone, including the new $999 X model, sales are increasing but not as much as Wall Street expected, UBS said in a research report. A survey of consumers found the number intending to buy a new iPhone “slightly below expectations” prompting analysts at the firm to trim their forecast of Apple phone sales to a gain of 10% over last year from a previous forecast of a 12% increase.
Overall, given that the stock has already gained 51% in 2017, investors should have a more cautious outlook, Instinet analyst Jeffrey Kvaal wrote in another report issued on Monday. “The risk/reward on the stock is less compelling than it has been,” Kvaal noted. Even though he recommends buying Apple and has a price target of $185, Kvaal warns that the stock “has traditionally traded poorly between supercycles” and often “has traded in a series of peaks and troughs.”
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On tax reform, Apple (AAPL) may not benefit as much as some investors expect, Bernstein Research analyst Toni Sacconaghi wrote. Cutting the top corporate rate to 20% and allowing companies to repatriate foreign profits while paying an even lower rate should benefit Apple and boost its reported earnings per share, he noted. But because of the ways Apple has managed its taxes and its balance sheet under the current regime, Sacconaghi predicted the true financial benefits will be much smaller.
“Much of this benefit is solely on an accounting basis, as the company doesn’t actually pay the cash taxes that it has been accruing on its offshore earnings—but the optical impact of this dramatic increase in EPS could be significant in itself,” Sacconaghi wrote.