Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) has a market cap of $2 trillion, the largest of any company in America. Shares of the iPhone maker have surged 60% this year, compared to 10% for the S&P 500. Despite its size, Apple is a one-product company, as far as many investors are concerned.
Apple recently reported quarterly revenue of $64.7 billion, with net income of $12.7 billion. It sold $9.0 billion worth of Macs, $6.8 billion of iPads and $7.9 billion of accessories and home equipment, and its fast-growing services business posted revenue of $14.5 billion. However, the iPhone’s revenue was by far the largest of any product line at $26.4 billion. Wall Street is counting on future iPhone revenue to keep Apple’s stock moving upward.
For a period, investors believed that they could count on the Services business to be Apple’s growth driver. It was a fair assumption. This business includes the App Store, the iCloud service, iTunes, Apple TV and the Apple Pay commerce business. Services is Apple’s play to move beyond hardware.
The primary reason Apple’s stock has surged, however, is hope for iPhone 12 sales. The latest generation of the smartphone is considered a larger improvement over past models than has been true in years. It may begin what analysts call a “supercycle,” in which much of Apple’s iPhone owner base upgrades versions they have had for several years. If this happens, iPhone sales may hit an all-time record and give an extraordinary boost to revenue.
iPhone sales are expected to be strong, particularly in the short term, for two reasons. The first is that the iPhone 12 will work on new superfast 5G networks. The second is that the iPhone 12 was released just ahead of the holidays, when consumer electronics sales are always at an annual peak.
How many iPhone 12 smartphones does Apple need to sell to keep investors happy? Certainly several million by the end of the year. Analysts have a broad range of estimates.
Sales will need to be at the high end of those to keep Apple’s stock moving in a positive direction.