Two important events from tech giant Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and e-commerce leader Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) generate buzz from top analysts. Both defend their bullish outlooks on the stock giants as Apple releases updates at its developer conference and Alibaba heads into investor day.
Top analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray offered his insights on Apple following the first day of its WWDC developer conference in San Francisco. The company announced various software and hardware updates, which the analyst believes represent a “warm up” to product launches in the fall, such as the iPhone 7.
The analyst points two to main announcements from Day 1. First, the company opened Siri and messaging to iOS third party developers in an effort to beat the competition, who have already opened similar technology to third parties. Specifically, the analyst believes Siri competes directly with the likes of Amazon’s Alexa talk assistant as well as Android’s operating system. For messenger, Munster notes that “the open platform is a response to Facebook’s Messenger”, who has recently released a third party enabled messenger bot. While Apple mentioned AI efforts, he notes that the company did not announce any type of chat bot technology at the conference, giving its competitors the advantage in this sector.
Another main announcement made at WWDC was Apple adding its Apple Pay platform to in-browser for both mobile and Mac. He states, “We view in-browser payments as a natural extension of Apple Pay and a key component of commerce on mobile devices.” Additionally, Munster believes Apple Pay on Mac represents a “small incremental positive” as it was unexpected. While Siri is newly available on Mac, the analyst does not believe it has the same “game-changing” impact as it has through mobile. Overall, the analyst believes Apple will bounce back from its recent slump with the release of the iPhone 7. He states, “We remain positive on shares on our belief that the iPhone 7 cycle will enable a return to unit and revenue growth even if the cycle is flat from iPhone 6.”
The analyst reiterates an Overweight rating on shares with a $153 price target. Gene Munster is ranked #6 out of 3,971 analysts on TipRanks. He has a 61% success rate recommending stocks with an average return of 17.1% per recommendation.
According to TipRanks’ statistics, out of all the analysts who have rated AAPL in the last 3 months, 84% gave a Buy rating, 3% gave a Sell rating, and 13% remain on the sidelines. The average 12-month price target for the stock is $125.19, marking a 29% upside from where shares last closed.
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd
Baird analyst Colin Sebastian provided an investor day preview for Alibaba, the company’s first since its IPO. The analyst provides his “wish list expectations” from the presentations of key executives related to various opportunities facing the company.
First, Sebastian hopes the company will provide updates on financial guidance, especially due to its shift to online marketing, which the analyst notes is a “larger and more profitable segment” than retail. As a result, the analyst expects more clarity regarding revenues rather than GMV as “transaction volume is no longer as relevant as actual revenues.” Additional guidance wish list expectations include the company’s long term margin and cash flow expectations as well as growth expectations for its core e-commerce segment. He also hopes management will share its financial strategy for its non-core segments in media, cloud, logistics, and payments.
Regarding growth strategies, the analyst believes the company will shed more light on both its Aliyun Cloud platform as well as synergies related to its media and entertainment assets on the heels of acquisitions and investments. He states, “We would like to better understand management’s plans to integrate media properties with core e-commerce.” Sebastian notes management’s goal of $1 trillion in GMV by 2020, and would like management to offer more details on global expansion, especially on how the company will conduct business in the challenging North American and European markets, where e-commerce is maturing.
Another element of the analyst’s wish list is the expansion of Ant, the company’s financial segment. The analyst is curious on how Alibaba will expand its financial services due to Ant’s upcoming IPO in 2017. The analyst believes BABA will maintain its stake in the company rather than sell it. Sebastian also wonders what steps management will take with its logistics strategy, highlighting competition with JD.com. Sebastian points to a possibility of the company insourcing its logistics if third party partners and Cainiao, a logistics management company, cannot accurately fulfill orders.
Finally, the analyst hopes for updates on its SEC investigation regarding accounting practices, wondering whether the investigation will hinder the company from making “more substantial investments.” Overall, the analyst expects the company to divulge its long-term strategy and expansion efforts during Investor Day. Despite some negative headlines, investor day should quell investor concern. He explains, “We believe this event could be an important milestone for the company, as it seeks to reassure shareholders that the underlying business remains vibrant…”
The analyst reiterates an Outperform rating on the company with a $94 price target. He states, “Overall, we remain constructive on shares, as Alibaba remains well positioned to drive significant growth across multiple businesses in the world’s largest Internet market.” Colin Sebastian is ranked #42 out of 3,971 on TipRanks. He has a 65% success rate recommending stocks with an average return of 14.4% per recommendation.
According to TipRanks, out of the 15 analysts who have rated the company in the past 3 months, all are bullish on the stock. The average 12-month price target for the stock is $99.08, marking a 31% upside from where shares last closed.