Is It Time to Get Cautious on Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Alphabet Inc (GOOGL)?

Two analysts are out with less-than-favorable views on popular tech giants Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL). Whereas Barclays chimes in from the sidelines on Apple, wary on ebbing price tends for the iPhone, Wedbush sees reasons to be troubled on Alphabet’s future and lays out a case to sell shares. Let’s take a closer look:

Apple Is Starting to Lose Steam

Barclays analyst Mark Moskowitz continues to warn Apple investors to slow the party on the giant as prospective iPhone consumers are increasingly turning to iPhone-lite prototypes, a.k.a. smartphones at a fraction of the cost. This “mix down” has left the analyst cautious on AAPL prospects moving forward, even after the giant outclassed its rival Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (KRX:005930) in quarterly results.

The analyst reiterates an Equal Weight on shares of AAPL with a $123 price target, which represents a just under 9% decrease from current levels.

For those that would argue the iPhone 7 Plus performed well during the holiday season, Moskowitz believes more importantly, the average selling price for Apple’s money-maker is starting to trend with less steam.

The analyst explains, “In our view, customers increasingly mixing down could signal that the era of “must-have” technology in smartphones has peaked, potentially weighing on both Apple and the broader smartphone market. Despite the success of the iPhone 7 Plus in Dec-Q, total iPhone units with an ASP above $700 remained flat Y/Y at 58% of total units.” For all the buzz factor surrounding the highly-anticipated iPhone X, the 10th anniversary edition model, the analyst does not hold out much hope it will set back the dip in ASP trends.

Ultimately, “Apple’s stock may continue to appreciate in the near term as investors focus on 1) the ‘what’s next?’ (services, content, M&A) and 2) the next capital return authorization later this spring. After that, the focus will likely return to long-term fundamentals and whether the next iPhone cycle (IP8) can drive a meaningful growth cycle (10%-plus) exiting C2017. Here, we remain sceptical and believe that mixing down by smartphone users and longer replacement cycles could result in a more subdued growth profile (i.e., single digits),” Moskowitz concludes, dismissive that the long-term growth players on the table from India to services to AI will become “[…] potential ‘what’s next?’ opportunities to emerge as major needle movers […]” in the forthcoming year for AAPL.

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 Mark Moskowitz is ranked #368 out of 4,459 analysts. Moskowitz has a 59% success rate and garners 11.2% in his yearly returns. When recommending AAPL, Moskowitz gains 35.2% in average profits on the stock.

TipRanks analytics exhibit AAPL as a Strong Buy. Based on 35 analysts polled by TipRanks in the last 3 months, 28 are bullish on Apple stock and 7 remain sidelined. With a return potential of 4%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $141.21.

Why You Should Sell Alphabet Stock

Wedbush analyst James Dix is cagey on Alphabet stock, considering a staunch rise in competition, from the likes of, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), Apple, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), and Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX). Outlining an updated bearish thesis, the analyst raises a red flag and reiterates an Underperform rating on GOOGL with a price target of $700, which represents a close to 17% downside from where the shares last closed.

First, the analyst underscores that while Alphabet has captured approximately 90% of market share in paid search, the company confronts risk for downside. Consider in the e-commerce battle field, Amazon has an enticing direct media offering; Apple’s iOS “ecosystem” is nipping at the giant’s heels, particularly after the rival’s app store launching of paid search ads this past quarter; and Facebook is not only competition in regards to the overall mobile picture, but also in regards to digital advertisements.

Second, Dix highlights, “Mobile phone is not a good search security blanket. Investors have been lulled by GOOGL’s improved mobile search monetization over the past year into a false sense of security about the health of paid search advertising trends. We believe that a meaningful cross-section of marketers is pulling back on paid search ad spending with GOOGL.”

Third, though Alexa initially intrigued investors, the analyst maintains caution in the long-run. “Alexa’s voice: the siren song that could become a swan song for search. Voice search on Alexa exemplifies search’s increasing interface risk, which GOOGL management addresses on conference calls with ‘early days’ generalities,” continues Dix.

Fourth, the analyst warns that Netflix is trouncing YouTube in terms of television play, opining, “YouTube (YT) has not made major inroads into TV. NFLX has disrupted TV far more than YT has. Amazon Prime is a more significant player in Hollywood than YT. Recent checks indicate informed skepticism on traction of YT’s likely VMVPD offering, as a marketing and sub acquisition challenge for an ad-centric company.”

Finally, “We do not expect margin mojo from GOOGL—profitability has downside risk,” Dix contends.

According to TipRanks, five-star analyst James Dix is ranked #379 out of 4,459 analysts. Dix has a 71% success rate and realizes 14.2% in his yearly returns. However, when recommending GOOGL, Dix loses 1.3% in average profits on the stock.

TipRanks analytics indicate GOOGL as a Strong Buy. Out of 28 analysts polled by TipRanks in the last 3 months, 26 rate a Buy on GOOGL stock, 1 maintains a Hold, while 1 issues a Sell. The 12-month average price target stands at $1,002.35, marking a 19% upside from where the stock is currently trading.

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