Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) recently used its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) as a forum to announce a few new developments within the company. Specifically the iPhone giant announced new features for its existing products, a set of tools for augmented reality software developers and a new home digital assistant. A few of the Apple bulls would argue that these new offerings play to the strengths of Apple’s enormous and unmatched installed base, while bears argue that Apple lacks visionary products and is reduced to playing catch-up.
As a result, Argus weighed in on Apple and raised its targets on the stock. Apple was reiterated as a Buy and the price target was raised to $175 from $160 (versus a $154.45 prior closing price).
Argus contends that there are some elements of truth to both the bullish and bearish views. The key point is that the enhancements and products announced will work to keep the installed base enormous, which may become increasingly difficult as new technologies such as artificial intelligence threaten Apple’s device leadership.
As opposed to take on Amazon’s digital home assistant leader Echo (powered by Alexa) or second player Google Home, Apple’s HomePod appears to be seeking a “tweener” category between those devices and the high-quality speaker category associated with Sonos.
Apple will reportedly launch a new iPhone cycle later this fall, rather than upgrade iPhone 7. The enormous installed base of iPhones, which has doubled, supports the fast-growing services business, which exceeds $7 billion in annualized revenue. In April, Apple focused on return to shareholders by raising its capital program by $50 billion, within plans to return $300 billion to shareholders through early 2019, and raising the dividend 10.5%.
Argus detailed in its report:
Apple does not present at trade shows; and new product announcements, such as an iPhone new model launch, can occur at irregular dates. The Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) therefore draws a heavy amount of attention, from technophiles and investors, as the rare predictable event at which displays its wares. Moreover, and the title notwithstanding, the show is about more than the latest software development kits (SDKs) that programmers use as building blocks to develop apps on the site. Apple uses the global focus created by WWDC to showcase new products, including new hardware as well as software and hardware upgrades to its computers, tablets and phones.
Shares of Apple were trading at $155.04 on Wednesday, with a consensus analyst price target of $155.84 and a 52-week range of $91.50 to $156.65.