Apple Inc. (AAPL) Monitor Sales Signal Unusually Strong Momentum, Tripadvisor (TRIP) Gets Price Target Cut

Analysts from Drexel Hamilton and Piper Jaffray are out delving into two major tech players: Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Tripadvisor Inc (NASDAQ:TRIP). One analyst praises the tech giant for beating average seasonality for this time of year after all of the companies in his Apple Monitor, which tracks sales of nine ‘important’ publicly-traded Apple suppliers based in Taiwan, handed in robust final July sales to the table. On the other side of the coin, another analyst sees hints of a struggle ahead for the online travel magnate, as the company grapples to deal with a changing mobile technology.

Apple Poised to Build Momentum

Analyst Brian White of Drexel Hamilton is upbeat on Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) after his Apple Monitor index posted stronger than usual July sales for the tech giant. The company successfully dodged its usual early summer slump and finished the fiscal third quarter strong with White forecasting a superb upcoming fiscal fourth quarter- especially with the upcoming fall iPhone 8 cycle to boost confidence among investors and kick-start struggling sales in greater China.

To provide some context, the analyst emphasizes the difference between the performance of three years prior “when the iPhone 6 Plus experienced yield issues,” resulting in a 2% month over month rise compared to this July’s sales that shot up by 12% month over month, surpassing the average increase of 9% throughout the last twelve years.

The analyst writes, “In our view, the ramp of components for the new iPhones this fall, combined with recently introduced Macs and iPad Pros likely contributed to this healthy July performance […] Although we expect iPhone 8 supply to be constrained in September, it appears that Apple has avoided the worst case scenario.”

On the Greater China front, Apple sales across countries like Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan dropped again for the sixth straight quarter. However, sales only fell by 10% year over year in the third quarter, which was an improvement over the second quarter and significantly beat out White own estimates of a 15-20% drop. This is in-line with the analyst’s premise that “With the iPhone 8 ramping, we believe Apple’s sales cycle in Greater China could turn positive on a quarterly basis in H1:FY18 and return to growth in FY:18. Although Greater China sales were down YoY, sales in Mainland China were flat or up 6% on a constant currency basis in 3Q:FY17.”

“We continue to believe Apple remains among the most underappreciated stocks in the world” surmises White.

The analyst is maintaining a Buy rating on AAPL with a price target of $208.00 representing a near 33% rise over current trading levels. (To watch White’s track record, click here)

TipRanks analytics demonstrate AAPL as a Strong Buy. Out of 34 analysts polled by TipRanks in the last 3 months, 26 are bullish, while 8 remain sidelined on Apple stock. With a potential upside of  8%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $170.43.

Tripadvisor Tripping on Mobile Monetization 

Despite posting a solid second quarter report, which beat out the Street on both revenue and EBITDA, there linger long-term questions as to how Tripadvisor Inc (NASDAQ:TRIP) will handle the growing “mobile mix.” Though falling 2% year over year, revenue per hotel shopper this quarter beat out consensus by 2 million coming out to $424 million, while EBITDA finished at $101 million or $16 million above the Street. However, the company lowered expectations for the remainder of 2017, as it battles mobile monetization issues. Moreover, management slashed estimates on click-based & transaction revenue growth from double to single digits, a segment that likewise fell 1% below Street forecasts.

In response, top analyst Michael Olson of Piper Jaffray has lowered his price target on TRIP from $49.00 to $43.00, while maintaining a Neutral rating.

Despite the short-term funk, the analyst believes that the company will rebound in the long haul, writing: “For LT investors, we recommend doing work on TRIP now, as the company is navigating the brand spend and shift to mobile. While we expect TRIP to be range-bound in ’17, we continue to have confidence in the company’s ability to better monetize its user base longer-term. We are maintaining our Neutral rating and lowering our PT to $43 from $49, based on 14x (down from 16x) CY18E EV/EBITDA. We lowered our PT multiple due to weaker revenue growth from a more rapid shift to lower monetizing mobile traffic.”

On a further positive note, Olson points to both the growth in monthly visitors, which has reached 415 million or 18% growth year over year and the 535 million reviews published on the site. Additionally, the company is investing $70-80 million on a TV offline branding campaign that according to the company is expected to reap positive returns in the coming years, “with limited impact to EBITDA, by reallocating marketing dollars from online ad spend” opines the analyst.

Michael Graham has a good TipRanks score with a 65% success rate and a high ranking of #65 out of 4,628 analysts. Graham realizes 17.3% in his annual returns. When recommending TRIP, Graham earns 11%.

TipRanks analytics showcase TRIP as a Hold. Out of 13 analysts polled by TipRanks in the last 3 months, 1 is bullish, 3 are bearish, while 9 are sidelined on Tripadvisor stock. With a potential upside of 8%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $44.56.

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