The short interest in Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) barely moved in the period that ended August 15, up just a million shares to 51.8 million. For the most part, the share price has been higher recently, mostly on hope that the new iPhone 7 will sell well.
In the past three months, Apple’s shares rose 8.4% against 4% for the S&P. The stock took a horrible beating starting in January and deepened in May.
Apple’s most recent quarterly results had two highlights. The first was slow iPhone sales. The other was its poor sales in Greater China, which its management claims is essential to the company’s future. Several pieces of research show that Apple’s sales there are behind Samsung’s and about the same as those of homegrown smartphones, particularly Huawei and Xiaomi.
Apple’s share price future through the end of the year depends largely on the count of iPhone sales, which several analysts have put at 70 million.
Bernstein’s Toni Sacconaghi was quoted in Barron’s recently:
While March quarter and FY 17 estimates may be more aggressive, investors are likely to look past any downward revisions post the December quarter, and focus on the iPhone 7S/8 that will be launched in mid to late 2017, which is expected to be a significant upgrade. We see the biggest risk to near-term momentum being very weak December guidance (implied iPhone unit growth of 70M or less). This would point to iPhone units for FY17 of only 200M and EPS of around $8, both likely below buyside expectations, and would raise structural concerns beyond simply a weak current iPhone cycle.
Short interest in the near future may be higher.