Is there life beyond the iPhone? Apple (AAPL) investors certainly hope so.
On Friday, Goldman Sachs sent a note to investors projecting a 12-month downside risk of 14.5% and reiterating its $164 price target for Apple, well below its closing share price Friday of $191.44.
Among Goldman’s chief concerns? Slowing sales of the iPhone, Apple’s mega-star product. The analysts forecasted 47 million iPhone unit shipments, which is in line with Wall Street projections — but given that Apple rakes in the majority of its revenue from iPhone sales, representing 62% of its total revenue last quarter, the analysts suggested that weaknesses in iPhone sales could bring the pain.
“There’s this underlying anxiety that investors have, because hardware has never been a sustainable investment — if you look at Sony or Nokia for example, history is not on Apple’s side here,” added Gene Munster, Apple analyst and Loup Ventures partner in an interview with TheStreet.
That sentiment is shared by other analysts, who point to less-than-earth-shattering demand for the iPhone X, Apple’s premium phone offering at $1000 and up, as a reason for pause.
In late May, Nomura’s Jeffrey Kvall warned that “iPhone X remains uninspiring…Apple guidance implied third fiscal-quarter iPhone unit volumes that were better than feared. We do not believe, however, sell-through has meaningfully improved.”
The iPhone X’s high price tag has raised some eyebrows, and Goldman is searching for more answers on pricing. “We also look for more color around Apple’s thinking on price elasticity at the high end, though it is unlikely the company changes its generally positive tune there,” they wrote.
Apple is expected to announce three new iPhone versions in the fall, which may include a larger version of the iPhone X and a less expensive iPhone model.
With its iPhone business under the microscope, bullish Apple analysts point out its growing services division, which includes iTunes, App Store, AppleCare, iCloud, Apple Pay and more.
During Apple’s WWDC in June, executives talked up a forthcoming overhaul of the App Store, Apple News and other software in its iOS12 update, coming this fall. And it’s also been racking up content deals as part of an rumored media streaming bundle, having inked a production mega-deal with Oprah Winfrey last month.
In May, Apple reported revenue of $9.2 billion from its services segment for the quarter, beating projections of $8.39 billion. Compared to its hardware business, it’s a more profitable segment with margins of around 50%, according to GBH analyst Daniel Ives.
RBC Capital Markets wrote that Apple’s Apple Music subscribers, estimated at between 40 million and 42 million, will shore up its burgeoning content business.
“Content strategy could represent a key growth vehicle for further monetizing the all-important software/services, which we believe is key to Apple’s growth prospects (and expanded multiple) over the coming years,” wrote GBH’s Daniel Ives in a June note.
Apple’s stock is up 11.3% since the beginning of this year, and it next reports earnings on July 31.
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