Earnings’ Final Cut: What Top Analysts Have To Say About Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Pandora Media Inc (P) After the Prints

Two of Wall Street’s best analysts are stirring the earnings pot with their insights on Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Pandora Media Inc (NYSE:P) after the former delivered its fiscal fourth quarter print, and the latter posted its third quarter financial report yesterday night. Why does Munster remain a buyer on Apple shares despite negative investor sentiment in pre-market trading today? Why does Mahaney find himself “incrementally more cautious” on Pandora? Let’s dive in:

Apple Inc.

Apple shares are falling nearly 3% today on back of its fiscal results for the tech titan’s fourth quarter delivered last night, which indicate a waning in strength compared to results this quarter last year. Yet, top analyst Gene Munster at Piper Jaffray maintains his bullish perspective on the titan, believing that whether the iPhone 8 generates a “super cycle” or the iPhone simply grows in a steady mid-single digit range, “both roads lead to a higher AAPL.” Munster notes that this was a “chief concern” last year, and he remains undeterred in his confidence.

Therefore, the analyst reiterates an Overweight rating on shares of AAPL while raising the price target from $151 to $155, which represents a 35% increase from current levels.

For its fiscal fourth quarter, AAPL brought in $46.9 billion in revenue and $9 billion in net income at $1.67 per diluted share, comes up short when compared to the company’s results this time last year at $51.5 billion in revenue, $11.1 billion in net income at $1.96 per diluted share. Meanwhile, AAPL’s gross margin was 38%, a decline from last year’s fiscal fourth quarter at $39.9%.

However, earnings per share of $1.67 mirrors the analyst’s projection and did beat consensus of $1.66, along with 45.5 million iPhone units sold topping the Street’s projection of $45 million.  AAPL’s quarterly revenue underperformed the Street’s $47 billion, but did outclass Munster’s estimate of $46,852 billion.

Additionally, Apple management guided revenue for its fiscal first quarter of 2017 to a range of $76 billion to $78 billion, another consensus beat, as well as gross margin between 38% and 38.5, and operating expenses between $6.9 billion and $7 billion. In turn, Munster had modeled guidance of $77,812 billion for AAPL’s fiscal first quarter of 2017.

The analyst asserts, “We remain buyers on AAPL based on our belief that the iPhone will return to and stay in mid to high single digit growth for the foreseeable future (2 years). Shares of AAPL are down 3% in the aftermarket given a pre-earnings increase in investor expectations around Dec-16 guidance.”

Overall, “Outside of those expectations, the Apple story is on track, in our view. Revenue guidance would have been slightly better if not for supply constraints on the iPhone 7 Plus that may last into the Mar-17 quarter. What’s important about the Sep-16 quarter/Dec-16 guide is the Apple franchise appears intact. While we were previously talking about a super cycle around the iPhone 10th anniversary next year, we now expect reported iPhone unit growth will be more steady in the 5-13% range over the next 7 quarters and note either road should result in stock appreciation,” Munster 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, top five-star analyst Gene Munster has achieved a high ranking of #5 out of 4,197 analysts. Munster upholds a 68% success rate and realizes 18.3% in his annual returns. When recommending AAPL, Munster yields 11.6% in average profits on the stock.

TipRanks analytics exhibit AAPL as a Strong Buy. Based on 35 analysts polled in the last 3 months, 29 rate a Buy on AAPL, 5 maintain a Hold, while 1 issues a Sell. The 12-month average price target stands at $128.19, marking an 8% upside from where the shares last closed.

Pandora Media Inc

Pandora shares are toppling 8% today after what top analyst Mark Mahaney at RBC Capital deems a “very off-key quarter” was posted yesterday, with general misses across the board for the music streaming service. As such, the analyst reiterates a Sector Perform rating on P while raising the price target from $13 to $14, which represents a nearly 26% increase from where the stock is currently trading.

The analyst notes, “Similar to Q2, P posted a Miss & Lower Q3, with the company seeing weakness in its core Advertising segment.”

Additionally, Pandora management held an analyst day coupled with its release of third-quarter earnings. Mahaney observed a focus on the forthcoming December 6th launch of the Pandora Premium On-demand product.

For the company’s financial third quarter, though revenue of $352MM marks a 13% year-over-year surge, the result underperforms both Mahaney’s projection of $365MM as well as consensus of $366MM, and even guidance of $360 to $370MM. Meanwhile, EBITDA of $(6.6)MM also falls short of Mahaney’s estimate of $2.6MM, the Street’s expectation of $0MM, and guidance of ($5) to 5mm, although the analyst adds “some costs were pulled forward into Q3.”

Management “materially lowered” guidance and presently expects fourth-quarter revenue of $368MM at the midpoint, compared to a prior expectation of $390MM and ($45MM) in EBITDA against the prior $23MM expectation, which Mahaney speculates is “in part due to $24MM in new product launch costs.”

Ultimately, “The weaker than expected core advertising results were a negative here while the plateauing user base growth remains in need of reinvigoration. The company is in the midst of a transformation as it invests heavily in the launch of its new Pandora Premium on-demand music product, though visibility into the success of these investments is low. Nevertheless, Pandora does start off with an established brand and ~78MM Users. We also continue to see P as having significant strategic value. And valuation – at under 2X Sales – seems undemanding,” Mahaney contends.

Top analyst Mark Mahaney has a very good TipRanks score with a 70% success rate and he ranks at #3 out of 4,197 on the analyst leaderboard. Mahaney garners 20.9% in his yearly returns. However, when recommending P, Mahaney faces a loss of 19.6% in average profits on the stock.

TipRanks analytics demonstrate P as a Buy. Based on 22 analysts polled in the last 3 months, 14 rate a Buy on P, 6 maintain a Hold, while 2 issue a Sell. The consensus price target stands at $15.41, marking a nearly 27% upside from where the shares last closed.

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