October 27th was a key day for the tech world, as Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) held another special event, this time introducing a freshly improved MacBook Pro series to the greater Apple ecosystem, whereas fellow giants Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) released quarterly earnings.
Nomura analysts are largely positive on Apple, thanks to the company’s popular repute further supported by its newest MacBook Pro series upgrade. As Twitter remains caught up in merger and acquisition speculation on back of a first-time dip in year-over-year revenue, the analyst comments from the sidelines. When glancing at Amazon’s mixed bag in terms of third-quarter results, the analyst recommends buying on weakness in favor of long-term confidence. Let’s take a closer look:
This past Thursday, October 27th, Apple launched its upgraded MacBook Pro series, now including a touch-sensitive OLED strip deemed the TouchBar, which Nomura analyst Jeff Kvaal considers the true “highlight” of the tech titan’s “expected” and “overdue” series. On the heels of the “new, nifty, and nostalgic MacBook Pro,” Kvaal reiterates a Buy with a $135 price target, which represents just under a 19% increase from current levels.
Kvaal comments, “Apple trotted out its first laptop, the 25-year-old PowerBook. While the distinction was indeed stark, an equally glaring contrast is that between the company Apple then and now. While Apple launched the iPhone 7 at the Moscone Center, the new Macs appeared in a much smaller venue on its own campus.”
From the analyst’s eyes, “This was expected, although we do hope in particular for a Mac refresh in the near term. The Mac mini and Mac Pro were last updated in 2014 and 2013, respectively.”
Additionally, though there is now a “confusingly named” TV app on Apple TV, the feature functions in pulling together a video catalog of movies and shows consumers already own coupled with those available through OTT services.
Early last week, the analyst boosted his forecast for fiscal first quarter estimates of 2017 on back of fourth-quarter results, lifting his high-end EPS projection for the fiscal year of 2017 from $9.32 to $9.37 “on higher iPhone ASPs.” Furthermore, consensus saw an increase of $0.10 to $9.04.
Ultimately, “Our expectations for the Mac remain modest. Despite the launches, we expect the Mac to slip below 10% of sales in F1Q. Macs are well down Apple’s priority list these days, behind phones, services, enterprise, etc. Apple did not, for example, cite a higher Mac mix when discussing its lower F1Q margins. The Mac does, however, hold an emotional resonance well beyond its financial weight, at least for the Apple-philes,” Kvaal concludes.
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 Jeff Kvaal is ranked #303 out of 4,178 analysts. Kvaal has a 58% success rate and gains 9.9% in his annual returns. When recommending AAPL, Kvaal gains earns 8.7% in average profits on the stock.
TipRanks analytics exhibit AAPL as a Strong Buy. Based on 34 analysts polled in the last 3 months, 28 rate a Buy on AAPL, 5 maintain a Hold, while 1 issues a Sell. The 12-month price target stands at $130.47, marking a nearly 15% upside from where the shares last closed.
On October 27th, Twitter posted its third-quarter report that came in “modestly” above what Nomura analyst Anthony Diclemente had anticipated, but notes the social networking giant’s fourth-quarter guidance brings forth a “wide range of revenue outcomes.” As major outlets including the likes of Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal rumble with chatter of a prospective sale in the wings, perhaps by a big tech/media company looking to acquire the giant, the analyst remains sidelined.
As such, Diclemente reiterates a Neutral rating on TWTR with a price target of $13, which represents a 26% downside from where the shares last closed.
Even considering that this quarter brought to the table highlights like the Olympics, coverage and incited discussion of the U.S. Presidential election, as well as two live-streamed NFL games, Diclemente finds movement for monthly active user (MAU) growth to be “largely unimproved” at 3% year-over-year to 317 million, marking a 4 million rise from second quarter. Moreover, he would not be surprised for fourth-quarter revenue to reveal a dip in year-over-year.
For the third quarter, TWTR hit $616 million in revenue and $0.13 in EPS. However, the company reported a GAAP net loss of $103 million at $0.15 per share.
TWTR reported EBITDA that reached $25 million above Diclemente’s projection of $157 million, which he attributes to cuts in spending as well as good timing that worked to the advantage of quarterly profitability. However, though there were cost cuts in the third quarter, not all disappeared and the deferral could lead to a year-over-year decrease when glancing at fourth-quarter EBITDA guidance.
Though the analyst notes the TWTR corporate team did not mention acquisition talk when delivering the company’s earnings update, “We believe it possible that its reduction in workforce is geared towards slimming down the company’s cost structure, bringing it closer to positive EPS and making it more attractive as a takeout candidate.”
“In addition to highlighting recent improvements in engagement, some via its live video strategy, management emphasized a more disciplined approach to headcount and resource allocation. Meanwhile, 3Q US revenue declined YoY for the first time, and the company would not commit to a specific revenue projection for the 4Q, in part given the restructuring of the salesforce. Our target price and rating remain unchanged, as we believe Twitter offers strategic value in an M&A scenario, despite a challenging fundamental picture,” Diclemente surmises.
According to TipRanks, which measures analysts’ and bloggers’ success rate based on how their calls perform, five-star analyst Anthony Diclemente is ranked #204 out of 4,178 analysts. Diclemente has a 62% success rate and garners 9.4% in his yearly returns. When suggesting TWTR, Diclemente realizes 1.9% in average profits on the stock.
TipRanks analytics demonstrate TWTR as a Hold. Based on 27 analysts polled in the last 3 months, 5 rate a Buy on TWTR, 16 maintain a Hold, while 6 issue a Sell. The consensus price target stands at $17.72.
Amazon shares were falling 5% after the online auction and e-commerce leader posted a third-quarter mix with disappointing international operating income and fourth-quarter GAAP operating income guidance, though total revenue and profitability stemming from Amazon Web Services (AWS) did perform well.
With regards to the weak results, Diclemente remains undeterred in his bullish perspective and continues to commend “the strength of the overall Amazon business model.” Furthermore, the analyst points to not just the bigger picture, but other solid features of the quarter, like AWS sales and operating income outclassing expectations, robust global revenue growth thanks to investments in Prime, and Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) unit growth bolstering close to 30% total unit growth with regards to e-commerce.
Therefore, the analyst reiterates a Buy rating on shares of AMZN with a $950 price target, which represents a close to 22% increase from where the stock is currently trading.
Diclemente explains, “Part of the consolidated profitability weakness in both 3Q and 4Q likely comes from ramping investment in Amazon’s media products. Given the smaller revenue base internationally, media content amortization in International may have an outsized impact. While we remain constructive on Amazon’s investments in TV, Film and Music, we are mindful that in certain cases, Amazon may be overspending.”
“While there is concern that Amazon investments are stepping up faster than expected (media specifically), we believe that 4Q guidance likely factors in conservatism. In sum, out year profitability estimates move modestly lower due to international investments, but the higher multiple businesses of AWS and North America e-commerce continue to demonstrate dominant market positioning. We maintain our $950 TP and continue to favor AMZN both into the holiday season and over the longer-term,” Diclemente concludes.
When rating AMZN, Diclemente yields 48.0% in average profits on the stock.
TipRanks analytics indicate AMZN as a Strong Buy. Based on 31 analysts polled in the last 3 months, 29 rate a Buy on AMZN, while 2 maintain a Hold. The 12-month price target stands at $948.43, marking a 22% upside from where the shares last closed.