Earnings Preview: Piper Jaffray Top Analyst Maintains Optimism for Upcoming Apple Inc. (AAPL) Earnings Despite Low Investor Expectations

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster in the midst of low buy-side expectations for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) remains bullish for the bigger picture. With Apple’s June 2016 quarter earnings and September 2016 guidance set to deliver today, July 26, Munster reiterates a Buy rating with a price target of $153.00; marking a close to 57% increase from where the stock is currently trading.

Though Munster predicts a neutral quarter, he explains, “If Apple reports an in-line quarter and guides down slightly (~5%), which we believe is buy-side thinking, we believe the stock would likely drift higher, although not move significantly.” Long-term, Munster currently observes a drop in investor expectation for the iPhone 7, considering it “extremely low.” For this reason, “any potential ‘wild card’ improvements would be a meaningful positive for shares in September.” Though investor expectation has dropped for the present, Munster thinks expectations will swim to the top again for the 10th anniversary iPhone, whether it will be the iPhone 7S or the iPhone 8, with talks of a potential launch in 2017.

Most likely, Munster thinks September 2016 will bring in revenue from somewhere between 41 to 42 million iPhone purchases, with consequent profit margins in the range of 37 to 38% Once the iPhone 7 launches, the analyst thinks the quarter guidance is bound to be impacted. With Apple CFO Luca Maestri’s step-by-step plans for reducing inventory by at least $2 billion, Maestri’s approach to tackling macro headwinds, Munster predicts a far higher sell-through number for the iPhone- by about two to three million units. For now, Munster’s revenue estimate for the June quarter of $42.3 million stands just above that of the Street at $42.2 million. Compare that to Munster’s guidance for $46.5 in September 2016 revenue, still slightly above consensus at $46 billion. Though Apple might enter with a neutral report this quarter, ultimately, Munster thinks the eventual iPhone 7S or 8 up the tech corporation’s sleeve could be a real game changer.

As usual, we find it important to include the analyst’s track record when reporting on new analyst notes to offer perspective on the impact it has on stock performance. According to TipRanks, Gene Munster is a five-star ranked analyst, earning a ranking of #14 out of 4,079 analysts. Munster upholds a high success rate of 60%, averaging a profit of 15.4% in his annual returns.

TipRanks analytics indicates Apple stock to be a Strong Buy. Of the 38 analysts offering recommendations for AAPL in the last 3 months, 82% rate a Buy, 13% maintain a Hold, and the remaining 5% issue a Sell. The average price target is $123.94, marking an approximate 27% upside.


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