BMO analyst Tim Long is diving in on two of the tech world’s biggest players, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and QUALCOMM, Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOM), after meeting with various companies across the technology supply chain in Asia. The tour spanned from Taiwan to Hong Kong to South Korea, and Long has emerged increasingly bullish on AAPL, and though still sidelined on QCOM, he underscores fresh optimism for the long-term.
According to TipRanks, which measures analysts’ and bloggers’ success rate based on how their calls perform, four-star analyst Tim Long is ranked #575 out of 4,279 analysts. Long has a 61% success rate and garners 6.1% in his annual returns. When recommending AAPL, Long yields 14.6% in average profits on the stock. However, when suggesting QCOM, Long loses 8.9%.
Let’s take a closer look:
Apple’s Success Rests Upon the 10-Year Anniversary iPhone Model
Apple stock is looking ideal to Long following his Asia tour, particularly considering the excellent reception and leading backlog for the iPhone 7. On the heels of the trip, the analyst reiterates an Outperform rating on shares of AAPL while raising the price target from $135 to $140, which implies a just under 21% increase from where the stock is currently trading.
Robust initial signs from the launch paint an appealing picture ahead of the tech titan’s fiscal first quarter print for 2017, as the analyst opines, “We believe the launch strength is leading to better units in the December quarter, with a healthy mix.” After the tour, Long is calling for 80 million units, as opposed to his prior expectations for 78 million, which is just marginally ahead of consensus.
Moreover, the analyst affirms, “We believe the supply chain will take a cautious approach into the March quarter.” Subsequently, the analyst has reduced March quarter estimates from 59 million to 55 million and June quarter estimates from 48 million to 45 million, which approximately mirrors consensus expectations.
As far as how the iPhone comes into prominent play for the stock’s rise or fall, Long believes, “Discussions are starting for the next year’s iPhone, which some are referring to as the iPhone 8. This of course will be the 10th anniversary iPhone, which some believe will force Apple to step up the innovation. We believe an OLED screen will be a critical element of next year’s phone. There is also speculation the phone includes a glass casing, screens on the edge like some Samsung products, and wireless charging. We heard that there is a possibility for a 5.3” and/or a 5.8” screen size for the OLED product. We believe the expected success of next year’s phone will be the main determinant of AAPL stock success over the next 6-9 months.”
OLED or no OLED, the analyst’s fundamental perspective stays the course ahead of the 10-year iPhone anniversary model, in that it will be a design of evolution as opposed to one deemed “revolutionary.”
“Regardless, we see 2017 as a year where iPhone returns to unit growth, mostly because installed base is growing and aging,” Long surmises.
TipRanks analytics indicate AAPL as a Strong Buy. Out of 30 analysts polled by TipRanks in the last 3 months, 25 are bullish on Apple and 5 remain sidelined. With a return potential of 14%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $132.86.
QCOM: Mixed Takeaway, but Encouraging EPS Upside Potential for the First Time in Years
Though Long is more confident on Apple, he maintains caution on QCOM amid chip challenges, explaining that his takeaways from the Asia trip for the chip maker were “mixed.” Therefore, the analyst reiterates a Market Perform rating on QCOM with a price target of $67, which aligns with current levels.
Regarding the China end market, the analyst finds, “While the industry has been resilient, we are still concerned that there could be some inventory growing, which could correct itself in the first quarter of 2017.” Meanwhile, India presents a risk when considering the recent change-out of a considerable amount of currency, which the analyst explains has commenced to affect business and could impact QCOM come first quarter. Yet, for the fourth quarter, the analyst believes this will not signify as much of a problem.
Moving forward, however, there might be a new sliver of silver lining for QCOM. “We are not making any changes to our QCOM model at this time. The slightly higher Apple numbers for the December quarter will help March EPS, but we expect this to be offset by potential issues with low-end chips, particularly in emerging markets. We remain Market Perform on the stock, but see the scope for a guide-up in forward quarter EPS for the first time in a few years. Our March quarter EPS of $1.32 is $0.12 above consensus. We believe the Street generally has a tough time modeling the sequential strength in December royalties, which hits March EPS,” Long concludes.
TipRanks analytics exhibit QCOM as a Buy. Based on 20 analysts polled by TipRanks in the last 3 months, 10 rate a Buy on AAPL stock while 10 maintain a Hold. The 12-month average price target stands at $73.25, marking a 9% upside from where the stock is currently trading.