BTIG Believes Market Overestimating Opportunity for Apple Inc. (AAPL) iPhone Promotions

Cutthroat wireless operator arena or not? All the same, smartphone sales growth could be imminent.

Will Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) prospectively buzziest iPhone yet, its 10th anniversary edition of its first iPhone model- the “X,” heavily rumored for a release at the tech titan’s next event on September 12th in Cupertino have “aggressive” iPhone promotions this year? Will the release of the iPhone X set off an electric tide of rivalry between wireless operators battling on the domestic home front?

These are among the questions BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk finds himself asking as all eyes on Wall Street eagerly await next Tuesday to see what the titan has in store.

Piecyk notes that in this new era of a cutthroat warzone among wireless operators: “The weapons of competition are increased phone subsidies, discounted phone payment plans and device trade-in offers. Promotions are already on the rise for the Samsung phones introduced earlier this year. However, it might be tough for wireless operators to top the generous iPhone offers from last year. The competition among US operators is simply not as fierce as many of our peers seem to believe, but phone upgrades of existing customers could still play a role in delivering growth in smartphone sales.”

“We expect the three year lengthening of the phone replacement cycle since the launch of the iPhone 6 to invert and start to shorten this year,” adds the analyst, elaborating, “Nevertheless, it might still require a mid-single digit increase in iPhone ASP to enable Apple to execute on consensus revenue and earnings estimates. We will have to wait until next week to see whether the new product and pricing can support that rise.”

The question, concludes Piecyk, is one of just how much greater of an acceleration can iPhone promotions take. Finding the story of a fourth-quarter churn “a potentially false narrative” and highlighting trade-in values that secured $650 in 2016, the analyst anticipates the market is overvaluing the prospects for rising promotions circling the iPhone launch.

Ahead of the iPhone X launch, the analyst maintains a Buy rating on shares of AAPL with a $184 price target, which represents a 14% increase from current levels. (To watch Piecyk’s track record, click here)

Most of Wall Street is enthused on this tech titan, considering TipRanks analytics exhibit AAPL as a Buy. Based on 33 analysts polled by TipRanks in the last 3 months, 24 rate a Buy on Apple stock while 9 maintain a Hold. The 12-month average price target stands at $171.45, marking a 6% upside form where the stock is currently trading.

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