Consumer Electronics

Top Apple Analyst's Worst/Best Cases Still See Upside for the 5G iPhone

It seems that no companies are immune to the coronavirus-induced recession. Even the mighty Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) is not immune to reduced sales of the iPhone and its other products in these very recent hard times.

Daniel Ives of Wedbush Securities has been among the most bullish Apple analysts. Only in recent days did his target price come down to $335 from $400. His latest report covers a negative stress test scenario for Apple’s iPhone sales. In this case, he now only assumes that “the installed base consumers currently in the window of an upgrade opportunity that have not upgraded their iPhones in more than 42 months purchase a new phone over the next 18 to 24 months.”

The Wedbush report estimates that approximately 350 million of Apple’s 925 million iPhones worldwide would fit into that upgrade window in a more draconian scenario wherein minimal new smartphone activity takes place outside of this segment of Apple’s installed base. Ives had three scenarios for the iPhone outlook.

The current base-case scenario is one in which Apple’s supply chain is able to get back toward full capacity by late May. The 5G iPhone product launches set for the fall are delayed into the holiday season. This base case is also one in which U.S. and European consumer demand trajectory normalizes into the fall of this year and Chinese demand rebounds modestly into the June/September quarters with some clear demand destruction. This would shift that highly awaited iPhone supercycle into fiscal 2021 with “some but no major demand destruction.” The flagship iPhone launches would be delayed into the holiday timeframe and the lower-cost iPhones would be available in June rather than March.

Under the best-case scenario, Ives sees the supply chain able to approach full capacity by late April. Along with that, the 5G iPhone product launches for the fall are not delayed, and normalizing U.S. and Europe consumer demand holds up, while China demand rebounds into the June and September quarters.

Under the worst-case scenario, the supply chain moves toward full capacity in June and the upcoming 5G iPhone product launches for the fall of this year get pushed out past the key holiday season into the middle of Apple’s fiscal 2021. Also in that case, there is no normalization of U.S. and European consumer demand until December, while demand also rebounds across China but demand destruction is clear. In that case, the lower-cost iPhones do not hit until the June-July timeframe.

The report maintained an Outperform rating, and it said:

Even factoring in this more doomsday type scenario, with a services business that is Teflon-like and poised to hit roughly $60 billion in FY21 we believe the risk/reward on the stock is extremely compelling at current levels for risk tolerant investors heading into a delayed (by ~3 months) 5G super cycle thesis over the next 12 to 18 months. Taking a step back, this is not any ordinary year for Cook and Cupertino as the company is entering in our opinion one of its most important iPhone upgrade product cycles ever as the drumroll for the 5G super cycle was slated to kick off in the September timeframe even though we now believe this is looking like the holiday timeframe given the current global lockdown and still damaged supply chain. Below we walk through some updated scenario analysis on the Apple story to better paint the different potential paths ahead.

Apple stock traded up 1% at $250.25 on Monday morning, in a 52-week range of $170.27 to $327.85 and with a Refinitiv consensus analyst target price of $311.28.