Piper Jaffray Shines Light On Apple Inc. (AAPL) iPhone 6S Launch

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) fans have lined up at stores around the world to get the latest versions of the iPhone. After a dramatic redesign last year in which Apple enlarged the iPhone’s screen and added mobile payments, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus boast more modest improvements, including improved cameras and 3D touch.

According to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, the iPhone 6S launch line at 8AM ET at the 5th Avenue NYC store was about 650 people long compared to last year’s record 1,880 for the iPhone 6 launch.

Munster noted, “We view the shorter line as generally in line with our expectations for three reasons. First, China was added as a launch country for the first time, reducing iPhone resellers in line. Second, “S” cycles have historically had shorter lines than their respective number change cycles. Third, Apple continues to promote pre-orders/online sales. We remain comfortable with our 12-13 million opening weekend unit estimate.”

Furthermore, “The overwhelming concern about the iPhone 6S cycle is that demand will be disappointing compared to the success of the iPhone 6. To put the iPhone 6 success into context, we expect iPhone units to increase 37% through the end of the iPhone 6 cycle (effectively through Sep-15) compared to 13% during the iPhone 5S and 20% during the iPhone 5 cycles. Given that backdrop, it is understandable why investors are concerned about growth into the tough comps, but we continue to believe that 3% growth during the iPhone 6S cycle is achievable compared to the Street’s flat projection.”

Munster reiterated an Overweight rating on Apple shares, with a price target of $172, which represents a potential upside of 48% from where the stock is currently trading.

According to TipRanks.com, which measures analysts’ and bloggers’ success rate based on how their calls perform, analyst Gene Munster has a total average return of 21.0% and a 61.6% success rate. Munster has a 26.8% average return when recommending AAPL, and is ranked #4 out of 3764 analysts.

Out of the 49 analysts polled by TipRanks, 33 rate Apple stock a Buy, 14 rate the stock a Hold and 2 recommend a Sell. With a return potential of 26%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $146.85.

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