All Eyes on Apple (AAPL) F3Q18 Earnings This Evening

Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock is up 0.5% heading into the company’s fiscal third-quarter earnings release this afternoon. Investors are likely most concerned with iPhone sales and guidance, but there are several other key metrics and trends that analysts will be watching closely.

Adding his two cents to the discussion is GBH analyst Daniel Ives: “This quarter takes a back seat to the “main event” which is all about the FY19 underlying iPhone demand picture and ramping services business which remains a key incremental growth driver for Cook & Co. for the coming years. In terms of the quarter, we believe there could be some upside on the all-important services/software front along with ASPs potentially another bright spot and top-line catalyst. In a nutshell, the Street is all focused on the demand trajectory for the September quarter and most importantly into 2019 with the trifecta of next generation iPhones on the horizon and the Street modeling iPhone shipments of roughly 220 million units, which could ultimately prove to be conservative in our opinion given the underlying demand drivers.”

“With June and September Street numbers now hittable/beatable, it appears Apple shares/valuation is set up well heading into a potentially robust product cycle over the coming quarters along with a massive capital return strategy as another tailwind for Cupertino (and its investors),” the analyst concluded.

As such, ahead of the big event, Ives reiterates a Highly Attractive rating on Apple stock, with a price target of $200, which represents a slight upside potential from current levels. (To watch Ives’ track record, click here)

Cautious optimism circles this tech giant, as TipRanks analytics exhibit AAPL as a Buy. Out of 28 analysts polled in the last 3 months, 16 are bullish on Apple stock, while 12 remain sidelined. With a return potential of nearly 7%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $203.58.

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