Analysts Share Two Cents On Tech Giants: Apple Inc. (AAPL), Facebook Inc (FB), Twitter Inc (TWTR)

Analysts are chiming in on key tech stock giants Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), and Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR), providing their two cents on the prospects for these players, with forecasts ranging from bullish to more mixed. See why Drexel Hamilton remains unconcerned on Apple’s iPhone sales amid China’s warning to the U.S. amid a political tussle, how MKM believes Facebook’s price-earning compression fares, and why MKM remains cautious on Twitter despite shares escalating. Let’s dive in:

Apple Inc.

Apple shares were trading down close to 3% after yesterday’s morning article in the Global Times declared that U.S. brands and whole industries in China must prepare to “suffer a setback” if President-Elect Trump imposes the 45% tariff on Chinese imports as he has indicated in his statements. How does Apple come into play? This tariff would include “iPhone sales.”

Yet, for Drexel Hamilton analyst Brian White, one man’s caution is another’s opportunity to buy. Therefore, not deterred from his bullish perspective, the analyst reiterates a Buy rating on shares of AAPL with a $185 price target, which represents just under a 75% increase from current levels.

Though White acknowledges the 3% aftershock as well as an 11% sink from when the tech titan released its fourth-quarter fiscal print at the end of October, he asserts, “We believe this trade rhetoric represents another attractive buying opportunity in Apple.”

With regards to the risk of the tariff, the analyst counters, “Given the importance of trade relations between the U.S. and China, we are doubtful that a major trade disruption is in the cards and feel confident in Apple’s opportunity in China (22% of FY:16 sales from Greater China).”

From White’s perspective, should the U.S. attempt to manufacture the iPhone in volume, it would be an ultimately “unrealistic” endeavor, with consumers unable to pay the implications, i.e. a surge in manufacturing costs that subsequently would hike up the price of a given iPhone. The analyst explains, “This would not just disrupt iPhone sales but also all of the industries/companies that have developed around the mobile Internet over the years.”

White’s solution? “The U.S. government could tie a lower tax rate on the repatriation of overseas cash (Apple has $237.6 billion in cash and 91% overseas) with investments in the U.S. […] With the proper incentive, Apple could make a symbolic gesture and manufacture select, low volume programs in the U.S,” the analyst contends.

As usual, we like to include the analyst’s track record when reporting on new analyst notes to give a perspective on the effect it has on stock performance. According to TipRanks, five-star analyst Brian White is ranked #123 out of 4,214 analysts. White has a 57% success rate and realizes 8.6% in his annual returns. When recommending AAPL, White yields 17.8% in average profits on the stock.

TipRanks analytics exhibit AAPL as a Strong Buy. Out of 34 analysts polled by TipRanks, 28 are bullish on Apple stock, 5 remain sidelined, and one is bearish on the stock. With a return potential of 23%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $130.47.

Facebook Inc

MKM analyst Rob Sanderson is out with a research report on Facebook investigating from a different perspective, assessing a comparison of the giant alongside GOOGL, with close attention to price-earnings compression. Though Sanderson anticipates an uphill battle for FB in the near-term, he nonetheless reiterates a Buy rating on FB while lowering the price target from $165 to $150, which represents a 30% increase from where the shares last closed.

“We analyze Google’s (GOOGL, Buy, $771.75, $935 PT) historic P/E trend and point out that its collapse toward 20x was coincident with revenue growth deceleration to 30% and then lower. FB is now at 22x forward 12-month EPS with 56% growth last quarter. Regardless, we now expect FB shares to trade below its growth rate for the foreseeable future as deceleration and margin concerns pressure the P/E multiple,” Sanderson surmises.

Yet, the analyst praises business trends sustaining “very strong” results and believes if the giant reaches a 5% growth range come 2017 with the “modest margin compression” the Street is modeling, the multiple could very well “normalize in the high 20’s.” Additionally, Sanderson believes, “We think that engagement and advertiser demand will continue to be meaningful drivers and that both will be influenced heavily by video.”

Overall, “We think that the magnitude of multiple compression is overdone and premature. However, we do expect that FB will be a challenging stock in the near-term as investors debate interpretation of management’s comments on deceleration and spending,” Sanderson surmises.

According to TipRanks, which measures analysts’ and bloggers’ success rate based on how their calls perform, three-star analyst Rob Sanderson is ranked #1,776 out of 4,214 analysts. Sanderson has a 52% success rate and gains 0.9% in his yearly returns. When suggesting FB, Sanderson earns 9.0% in average profits on the stock.

TipRanks analytics demonstrate FB as a Strong Buy. Based on 37 analysts polled by TipRanks in the last 3 months, 35 rate a Buy on FB, while 3 maintain a Hold. The 12-month price target stands at $158.48, marking a nearly 38% upside from where the stock is currently trading.

Twitter Inc

Twitter shares were on a 3% rise yesterday following the announcement from activist investment firm and Jana Partners’ 2.9 million shares stake in the social networking giant, leading to further buzzing for the merger & acquisition rumor mill.

Though Sanderson believes there is value in Twitter as an acquisition target, there remains a question as to just how much. The analyst finds recent corporate insights into the company’s user engagement and metrics as a positive, but in a larger scheme remains sidelined on TWTR’s prospects amid disappointing earnings as well as recent six-year Twitter executive COO Adam Bain’s recent flight from the scene. Formerly, Bain had navigated TWTR’s revenue business in its entirety, leaving CFO Anthony Noto to assume the role in his absence.

As such, the analyst reiterates a Neutral rating on shares of TWTR with a $18.50 fair value estimate, which represents a 3% downside from current levels.

From Sanderson’s perspective, “We are encouraged by management commentary on inflection on engagement metrics and see significant potential behind Live events, but are discouraged by financial results and continued turnover of senior management. We believe there is still an expectation for M&A bolstering the stock price. We think TWTR is a unique asset with potential strategic value for an acquirer but believe the implied purchase price is too high given inherent risk in turning the network around.”

“We think that M&A speculation continues to bolster the stock price well above where it would trade on fundamentals. We think TWTR is a unique network and there is certainly strategic value here. The question is how much value to an acquirer and if not materially above the current stock price (we are skeptical) whether the Board is more interested in selling or to let the Live Events strategy play out in hopes of more significant upside down the road,” Sanderson concludes.

When Sanderson rates TWTR, he faces a loss of 7.9% in average profits on the stock.

TipRanks analytics indicate TWTR as a Hold. Out of 27 analysts polled by TipRanks, 5 are bullish on Twitter stock, 16 remain sidelined, and 6 are bearish on the stock. With a loss potential of 8%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $17.53.screen-shot-11-15-16-at-02-16-pm

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