Analysts Speculate on Three Stock Giants: Apple Inc. (AAPL), General Electric Company (GE) and Cisco Systems, Inc. (CSCO)

As analysts offer perspectives on tech giant Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), industrial giant General Electric Company (NYSE:GE), and networking giant Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO), each are divided in their forecasts. Whereas one analyst is positive on AAPL despite recognizing China as a “wild card” risk to the near-term, another is decidedly negative on GE after a corporate meeting did nothing to impact an already vigilant stance. Meanwhile, the third analyst navigates the middle-of-the-road speculation on CSCO, believing its “bright spots” are simply not sufficient to offset its weaknesses. Let’s dive in:

Apple Inc.

UBS analyst Steven Milunovich believes China’s weakness could present issues to Apple’s financial year of 2017. Yet, with the potential for 2018 to potentially bring in “a windfall of upgrades,” the analyst remains bullish despite the risks and challenges 2017 may present for the tech titan, and therefore reiterates a Buy rating on shares of AAPL with a $127 price target, which represents just under a 17% increase from current levels.

Yet, how much risk does China bring to the table? Milunovich opines, “If China units are down by 5% in F17, we think the rest of world (RoW) would need to grow 10% in order to reach our 6% unit estimate. This is not unreasonable given higher growth rates in prior cycles but is not a slam dunk, so our 6% growth is on the optimistic side.”

Moreover, the analyst elaborates, “Greater China is almost 30% of Apple’s iPhone sales; about half of sales there are to new customers, making China about half of new customer additions recently. Our estimated 5% decline in F17 China units is based on recent weakness and our survey data showing less interest in the iPhone 7 than previous phones.”

However, ultimately from Milunovich’s eyes, the titan’s strength lies in its long-term, as well as does its investor confidence. “Typically the stock is driven by whether Apple beats estimates over the next 12 months […] The March and June quarters could have downside risk, but it might not matter if investors are optimistic about F18 […] We think Apple’s discount to the market of 25% should narrow closer to its average of 20%,” Milunovich contends.

According to TipRanks, which measures analysts’ and bloggers’ success rate based on how their calls perform, four-star analyst Steven MIlunovich is ranked #1,249 out of 4,209 analysts. Milunovich has a 52% success rate and earns 1.6% in his annual returns. When recommending AAPL, Milunovich gains 2.9% 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 1 is bearish on the stock. With a return potential of 20%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $130.47.

General Electric Company

J.P. Morgan analyst Stephen Tusa though “impressed” with management’s renewed “vision” after meeting with General Electric executives from the gas and steam power equipment and services businesses at GE Power in Europe, he ultimately remains skeptical on the industrial giant. Despite commending the Power franchise, Tusa nonetheless maintains management was unable to sway him from his wary perspective.

As such, the analyst reiterates an Underweight rating on GE without listing a price target.

Tusa explains, “Near term, there is no change to management expectations for a big 4Q on H turbine and AGP shipments, something we continue to find difficult to bank given recent track record. Beyond this year, incremental info was on revenue growth expectations in 2017 for gas power […] and […] with no commentary on profitability expectations, though it’s likely the additional revenue in gas power equipment comes at lower margin, and we remain comfortable with our model on total Power segment profits in ’17 ($6.2B, up 18% y/y, with core profits x-ALO up 7%).”

“There was no formal update to the ALO accretion moving parts, something we expected, and of interest given the PPA adjustments in the past year that have resulted in weak quality of earnings with negative FCF. All-in, while management did a good job presenting the business and its opportunities, and we think the Power franchise remains best in class, there was nothing here to change our views on the stock,” Tusa surmises.

According to TipRanks, three-star analyst Stephen Tusa is ranked #1,366 out of 4,209 analysts. Tusa has a 63% success rate and realizes 2.2% in his yearly returns. When suggesting GE, Tusa yields 3.2% in average profits on the stock.

TipRanks analytics demonstrate GE as a Buy. Based on 9 analysts polled in the last 3 months, 5 rate a Buy on GE, 3 maintain a Hold, while 1 issues a Sell. The 12-month price target stands at $35.00, marking a nearly 14% upside from where the shares last closed.

Cisco Systems, Inc.

Ahead of Cisco’s next analyst day, Nomura analyst Jeff Kvaal weighs in on the networking giant from the sidelines, cautious that the company’s 3% to 6% long-term growth target is on the brink of being pulled back. Though before, the analyst believed the target would be lowered December 2016, when the company’s forthcoming analyst day was initially anticipated, he now projects Cisco’s next analyst day will occur June 2017.

Kvaal asserts, “Our work implies Cisco may target 0-2% growth – and possibly lower if its recurring revenue model transition accelerates. Rising margins and a higher multiple will ease the shift, although Cisco’s multiple is already near a post-recession high.”

From Kvaal’s eyes, the company’s “bright spots” are its security, collaboration, and data center, noting, “We view security as a ~15% grower (higher on billings) and collaboration an 8% grower. We see data center switching/routing (not UCS) as growing ~10% on enterprise, not webscale. We expect healthy webscale growth, if from a low base.”

However, a weak spot for CSCO is that its routing and enterprise switching segments may be “flat to down.” Kvaal argues, “We believe telcos are migrating spending away from routing, led by Cisco strongholds enterprise connectivity and mobile routing. We also believe Cisco’s lower share in webscale exposes it to the IT spending migration to the cloud.”

Meanwhile, though the analyst underscores CSCO’s increasing deferred revenue balance from its security, collaboration, and additional recurring revenue products as the culprit for the company’s present period growth decline, he contends that a “rising mix” of recurring revenue coupled with the software segment can enable the giant to expand its margins.

Believing that “structural challenges outweigh the opportunity,” the analyst reiterates a Neutral rating on shares of CSCO with a $30 price target, which represents an almost 5% downside from where the stock is currently trading.

For the financial year of 2017, the Street models approximately 1% in sales growth, which mirrors Kvaal’s expectations.

As usual, we like to include the analyst’s track record to give a perspective on the effect it has on stock performance. According to TipRanks, five-star analyst Jeff Kvaal is ranked #378 out of 4,209 analysts. Kvaal has a 57% success rate and garners 9.5% in his annual returns. When rating CSCO, Kvaal collects 23.4% in average profits on the stock.

TipRanks analytics indicate CSCO as a Buy. Out of 27 analysts polled by TipRanks, 17 are bullish on Cisco stock, 9 remain sidelined, and 1 is bearish on the stock. With a return potential of 6%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $33.39.

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