Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) had its most recent product launch in San Francisco, which is perhaps one of the most anticipated events of the year for consumers, investors and analysts alike. At this event, the latest model of the company’s iPhone was revealed and, as everyone expected, the new phone’s headphone jack is gone and the dual rear-facing cameras are included on the iPhone 7 Plus. Practically everyone had an opinion on this, as well as where Apple and the iPhone stand to go from here. We are taking a look specifically at what analysts are saying after the presentation.
Apart from the iPhone, the Apple Watch Series 2 was introduced as well. What sets this apart from the previous model is that it is now water resistant to a depth of 50 meters and owners can play Pokemon Go on the new smartwatch, although Pokemon can only be captured on the iPhone. It remains to be seen if the water-resistant capabilities of the Apple Watch are better than the waterproofing of the Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy S7 Active smartphone, which failed a test routinely used by Consumer Reports to test waterproof claims for devices.
The Apple Watch also now includes built in GPS, and the display is said to be twice as bright as the Series 1 devices. New Series 2 watches will be priced at a $369 starting point, and the Series 1 watch price will drop to $269. Preorders for the Apple Watch begin Friday, except for a Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) version designed specifically for runners, which debuts in late October.
Returning to the iPhone 7, the new device will be available in a new color, Space Black, as rumored and is both dust- and water-resistant. The 12-megapixel camera enhancement was announced, also as expected. The battery life on the iPhone 7 has also been extended by two hours, and the iPhone 7 Plus will run an hour longer with the new batteries.
Apple also introduced its new AirPod wireless earphones. The new iPhones come with an adapter that allows customers to use their analog headsets, but the company has taken the plunge on removing the headset jack. AirPods are said to have 24 hours of battery life. The new pods cost $160.
Apple has also ditched the 16 gigabyte (GB) version of the iPhone, also an expected announcement. The new storage levels are 32 GB, 128 GB and 256 GB, double the amounts in previous phones.
Credit Suisse took this opportunity to reiterate its Outperform rating and $150 price target. The firm said in its report:
Apple released updates to its iPhone portfolio, Apple Watch offering, new wireless headphones (called AirPods) and new Beats headphones. The releases point to continued innovation at Apple in hardware, software, and services and are welcome additions to its wide portfolio of compute products. The new announcements today further add to Apple’s strong product portfolio and provide a solid bedrock for Apple’s growing Services business.
Wells Fargo downgraded Apple to a Market Perform rating from Outperform and adjusted its valuation range to $105 to $120, from $115 to $125 previously. The investment bank sees limited upside potential beyond the high end of its revised range given investor expectations for the raise, narrow visibility into March and June quarters (dependent on December sell-through) and potential for pull-in of demand from future quarters due to more aggressive country launch plans. While iPhone 8 has the potential to be a big cycle, Wells Fargo believes there is limited visibility given the off cycle and, if history is an indicator, the bank believes it too early to be investable.
Merrill Lynch maintained a Buy rating with a $120 price objective and detailed why in its report:
We rate Apple a Buy on potential upside from 1) Continued long-term opportunity in China, 2) potential share gains from the release of a lower-end iPhones, 3) strength in the upcoming iPhone 7 cycle, 4) optionality in cash balance. Risks are: 1) Upcoming deceleration in iPhones after a strong product cycle 2) development of new revenue sources like Apple Pay, Apple Watch, home/health kit, etc., that will take time to mature.
A fair number of other analysts weighed in on Apple as well:
- S&P Global maintained a Strong Buy on Apple.
- BGC Partners maintained its Sell rating with an $85 price target.
- William Blair reiterated an Outperform rating.
- Pacific Crest reiterated an Outperform rating with a $121 price target.
- Macquarie reiterated an Outperform rating with a $115 price target.
- Deutsche Bank reiterated a Hold rating with a $105 price target.
- Stifel reiterated a Buy rating with a $120 price target.
- Oppenheimer reiterated a Market Perform rating.
- Nomura reiterated a Buy rating with a $120 price target.
- Morgan Stanley reiterated an Overweight rating with a $123 price target.
- JPMorgan reiterated an Overweight rating.
- Goldman Sachs reiterated a Buy rating with a $124 price target.
- Citigroup reiterated a Buy rating with a $120 price target.
- Sanford Bernstein reiterated an Outperform rating with a $125 price target.
Shares of Apple were last seen down 2.1% at $106.03 on Thursday, with a consensus analyst price target of $123.66 and a 52-week trading range of $89.47 to $123.82.
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