Piper Jaffray Weighs In on Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Fitbit Inc (FIT) with Mixed Ratings

Piper Jaffray analysts weighed in today on technology giant Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and wearable giant Fitbit Inc (NYSE:FIT). While one analyst remains positive on Apple, highlighting that there was no brand impact from Apple’s battle with the FBI, the other downgrades Fitbit on the back of disappointing earnings guidance. Let’s take a closer look.

Apple Inc.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster reiterated an Overweight rating on shares of Apple, with a price target of $172, following an online survey of 1,002 U.S. Apple consumers, showing that 24.1% viewed Apple’s brand more favorably in light of its refusal to help the FBI access an encrypted device, 23% of consumers said they viewed the brand less favorably, 17.8% said they viewed the brand the same, and 35.1% said they didn’t know anything about the story.

Munster wrote, “We surveyed 1,002 people in the U.S. regarding their perception of Apple’s brand in the face of its fight with the FBI over unlocking an encrypted device. Net-net the data showed that there was no brand impact from Apple’s decision to refuse to unlock an encrypted iPhone with essentially equal numbers of consumers viewing the brand more positively and less positively with the rest viewing it the same or unaware of the situation. We believe that the US market is likely more politically influenced than International markets (i.e., International markets would skew more favorably towards Apple if it continued to refuse to unlock the phone in question), but generally believe that regardless of the outcome of the dispute it will not have a meaningful impact on Apple’s brand.”

According to TipRanks.com, which measures analysts’ and bloggers’ success rate based on how their calls perform, analyst Gene Munster has a yearly average return of 15.8% and a 55% success rate. Munster has a 20.3% average return when recommending AAPL, and is ranked #10 out of 3638 analysts.

Out of the 53 analysts polled by TipRanks, 39 rate Apple stock a Buy, 11 rate the stock a Hold and 3 recommend Sell. With a return potential of 43%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $138.16.

Fitbit Inc

Fitbit shares are falling nearly 19% after the company reported a disappointing forecast despite better-than-expected holiday results. In reaction, Piper Jaffray analyst Erinn Murphy downgraded the stock from Overweight to Neutral, while reducing the price target to $14 (from $24).

Murphy commented, “While we were holding out for Q4’s report where we expected Q1 guidance to be better, this simply did not come to fruition. We were surprised to the downside of the Q1 “miss” and in this market environment, we struggle to recommend a stock where almost the entirety of FY16 earnings are weighted in the final three quarters. We recognize we have been wrong on our FIT call but at this juncture, find ourselves hard pressed to arrive at FY16 guidance. We see visibility as cloudy around new product replenishment in Q2, the tougher Y/Y comparison in Q3 and Holiday 2016. While there are long-term positives around FIT’s role in the digital health arena, some of these benefits are still intangible and we need to see better visibility on sell-through of new product and consumer engagement.”

According to TipRanks.com, analyst Erinn Murphy has a yearly average return of -13% and a 32% success rate. Murphy has a -46% average return when recommending FIT, and is ranked #3588 out of 3638 analysts.

Out of the 13 analysts polled by TipRanks, 7 rate Fitbit stock a Buy, while 6 rate the stock a Hold. With a return potential of nearly 77%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $24.10.


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