updated 03:05 pm EDT, Wed June 3, 2009
Collins Stewart on AAPL
Analyst Ashok Kumar of Collins Stewart has upgraded his rating for Apple stock, shifting it from Hold to Buy, and simultaneously setting a new price target of $170. Kumar argues that lower material costs should allow an 8GB iPhone to go on sale for just $99, spurring demand; when such a model would launch is uncertain. Next week's WWDC meeting may be the first realistic opportunity.
Apple could also benefit from a "near-term" Chinese iPhone release in partnership with China Mobile, Kumar suggests. Sometime in the first half of 2010 Apple is predicted to release a long-rumored "iPhone nano," which could be more affordable still and help to expand the company's influence in smartphones. The only real threats on the horizon, according to Kumar, are the popularity of Windows 7, and the continuing absence of cheaper Macs. Releasing a tablet could nevertheless help Mac sales out, he proposes.
BMO Capital Markets analyst Keith Bachman has meanwhile raised his price target from $135 to $150, continuing with an Outperform evaluation. The analyst's September 2010 EPS estimate is now up to $6 from $5.78, based on a higher iPhone growth forecast, raised 2 points to 15 percent. The smartphone industry in general is benefiting from healthy numbers, Bachman comments.
He adds that Apple will likely announce new phones at WWDC, with features such as video recording, larger capacities, a 3.2-megapixel camera and faster processing. Shipment is expected in July, though present-generation iPhones may remain available at costs between $99 and $149. Stimulus strategies outside of the iPhone could involve Mac price cuts.