Harriet Lefton

About the Author Harriet Lefton

Harriet originates from the UK where she worked as a journalist specializing in the metal markets. She graduated from the University of Cambridge before becoming a qualified UK lawyer.

Wednesday’s Wall Street Insights: Apple Inc. (AAPL), Gilead Sciences, Inc. (GILD), Oclaro, Inc. (OCLR)

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares are dropping by 1.5% in Wednesday’s pre-market trading following fiscal second-quarter results that revealed disappointing iPhone unit shipments and slowing growth in China- the largest smartphone market in the world.

The tech giant reported revenue of $52.9 billion, up 5% annually, but still just under the consensus estimate of $53.04 billion. On the other hand, EPS (earnings per share) of $2.10, up 10% annually, beat the consensus estimate of $2.02. Meanwhile iPhone shipments of 50 million units missed consensus of 52 million. Guidance for the next quarter was also slightly weak with revenue of $44.5 billion marginally below the Street’s $45.6 billion estimate.

According to CEO Tim Cook consumers could be deferring purchases until the release of the much-hyped iPhone x (dubbed the iPhone 8) out later this year. He commented: “we’re seeing what we believe to be a pause in purchases on iPhone, which we believe are due to the earlier and much more frequent reports about future iPhones.”

Another key weak spot revealed by the results has turned out to be China. Revenue in the region fell 14% year-on-year to $10.7 billion, with Cook attributing a third of this to the Chinese yuan devaluing by 5% (apparently “not an insignificant headwind”). Cook added that “where the iPhone 7 Plus did well, we didn’t perform as well on some of the previous generation iPhones.”

However, the CEO kept quiet about the tough competition Apple faces in the region. Rival Chinese smartphone makers such as Huawei and Xiaomi are flooding the local market with cheaper, and impressive, smartphone options. In fact, mobile data company Jiguang has discovered that in the first quarter of 2017, Apple was only the fourth best-selling smartphone brand in China with the rest of the top five all Chinese brands.

“We believe our medium- to long-term concerns over Apple have gradually manifested through its lack of iPhone growth in China and flat gross margin trend in spite of significant ASP [average selling price] increase” commented Oppenheimer analyst Andrew Uerkwitz, who has traditionally been cautious on his Apple outlook.

Yet Apple reported “very solid” iPhone growth in other regions and increasing revenue of 11%, 5%, 10% and 20% in the Americas, Europe, Japan and the rest of Asia-Pacific respectively. Without giving specific numbers, Cook said that AAPL set “a new March record” in India with “double-digit” revenue growth. And the market was also cheered by services revenue up 18% to $7 billion, boosted by App Store revenues (up 40% year-on-year) and strong growth in Apple Music and iCloud subscriptions.

This reassured Maxim’s Nehal Chockshi who said, “the share gain trajectory remains in place for AAPL’s iPhone in all other geographies (i.e. net diffusion of users from Android to iPhone ecosystems), similar to how Mac has gained share (and grown) over the past 12 years despite a stagnating (or even declining) PC market, which we believe should give investors confidence that AAPL’s main cash cow of iPhones will continue to grow following the iPhone 8 cycle.” Chockshi subsequently increased Maxim Group’s 12-month price target to a bullish $171 (16% upside), up from the previous $163 price target.

Nonetheless- as expected- the conclusion remains that this earnings report is not a make-or-break for Apple. Any ‘hiccups’ in the results are still subsumed by the market’s expectations for the iPhone 8. Indeed, on May 2, top BMO Capital analyst Tim Long declared “We believe the stock is less about March results and June guidance, as all eyes are on the product cycle coming this year. He reiterated his buy rating on the stock on May 2 with a $160 price target.

If we take a look at the overall view on Apple we can see that financial accountability engine TipRanks has a Moderate Buy analyst consensus rating on the stock. In the last three months this breaks down into 24 buy, 6 hold and 1 sell rating. However, top analysts have a more bullish AAPL outlook: if we filter out underperforming analysts the stock actually has a Strong Buy consensus rating and 7% upside potential from the current share price.

Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD) shares are down by close to 2% in the pre-market session with plummeting demand for its primary Hepatitis C drug Harvoni. The controversial biopharma has just released fiscal Q1 results which missed consensus estimates for both revenue and EPS. Revenue came in at $6.5 billion instead of the forecast $6.66 billion with EPS of $2.23 far from the expected $2.28. Most worryingly, sales plummeted 17% year-over-year.

The company has suffered as demand for its key Hepatitis C franchise declines in the face of fierce competition from rivals AbbVie and Merck. And this quarter was no exception. Gilead’s best-selling drug Harvoni generated $1.37 billion in revenue, under half of the $3 billion revenue the drug generated in the first quarter of last year. As well as increased competition, company exec John Milligan underlined one of the “natural challenges” for companies that treat hepatitis- the declining patient numbers.

He says: “in each country there was a rapid increase in the number of patients who were treated and cured, followed by a decline in the number of patients seeking care and being able to access HCV treatment. The ongoing reduction in patient starts continues to be the major factor impacting our revenues.”

However, Gilead pointed out these poor results were partially offset by increased sales in HIV and other therapeutic areas. “We are pleased with the rapid adoption and acceptance of our TAF-based regimens by patients and physicians in the U.S. and Europe” the company said of its HIV and chronic Hepatitis B portfolio which has now exceeded $1 billion revenue in a quarter for the first time- a quarter-on-quarter growth of 47%.

Going forward, guidance has stayed at $22.5 billion to $24.5 billion in product sales with adjusted gross margins of between 86% to 88%.

J.P. Morgan analyst Cory Kasimov commented, “GILD’s 1Q top- and bottom-line miss (slides here, initial thoughts here), while certainly not encouraging, aren’t all that surprising and also aren’t telling us anything all that new, in our opinion. The dynamic remains very much the same as HIV is doing well (TAF revs of. $1.2B vs. cons of $1.0B) and HCV is not (HCV revs of $2.6B vs. cons of $2.7B). Until GILD can change the narrative and/or there is a trough that is apparent, we think it will be difficult for shares to work in the short term.”

TipRanks gives Gilead a Moderate Buy analyst consensus rating with 12 buy and 7 hold ratings published on the stock over the last three months. With steadily declining prices, the average analyst price target of $80.5 stands at a 17% upside from the current share price.

Oclaro, Inc. (NASDAQ:OCLR) shares are sinking by 10% in Wednesday’s pre-market trading after the optical components maker announced very troubling guidance during its fiscal Q3 2017 financial results conference call.

The company actually beat estimates for both revenue and EPS with Q3 EPS of $0.23 (vs forecast of $0.20) on revenue for the quarter of $162.2 million which easily topped the $160.19 million expected. According to OCLR “this growth was fueled by shipments of our market leading CFP2-ACO and our emerging QSFP28 product family into the metro and data center markets.” The company also delivered impressive non-GAAP gross margin of 42% which it attributed to “excellent execution and favorable product mix”.

However the market was disappointed by guidance going forward for the “more challenging” fiscal fourth quarter. OCLR currently expect revenues to decrease in this quarter to the range of $144 million to $152 million- a revenue decrease of about 10%. The drop is largely due to a slowdown in Chinese demand (from two key customers in particular) and a decrease in the company’s 40 gig and below business.

Oclaro is more positive on the company’s longer-term prospects saying “While China will likely not recover until later in this year, we do believe that the strength in the metro and data center markets will allow us to resume our growth in the September quarter.”

The stock has a Strong Buy analyst consensus rating according to TipRanks. The average analyst price target of $13.33 is now an incredible 63% above the current share price of $8.19. Only five days ago top Stifel Nicolaus analyst Patrick Newton maintained his buy rating on the stock with a price target of $11 (34% upside potential).


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