Deep trouble at Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) has not stopped a large number of analysts who still support the stock and have even given it Strong Buy and Outperform ratings. And a number have price targets well above the $93 current share price.
The value of Apple’s stock has been relentlessly down since it posted earnings. As a matter of fact, shares have reached a two-year low. In the past month, the broader market has been flat. Apple’s shares have dropped 15%, wiping out almost $100 billion in market cap.
The median analyst rating on Apple is 1.9, according to Yahoo! Finance, which uses data from Thomson/First Call. On the scale a 1 is a “strong buy” and a 5 represents “sell.” The number of analysts in the pool used for the analysis is 27.
Yahoo! data show only one downgrade since the start of the year, although its database does not include every analyst action. The downgrade was in early January, when Rosenblatt cut its call from Buy to Neutral.
24/7 Wall St. did highlight that many analysts maintained positive ratings while trimming price targets after earnings. We tracked full calls from BofA Merrill Lynch, Piper Jaffray, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, Oppenheimer, Wells Fargo and more than a dozen more calls with ratings or target changes.
Apple’s spectacular growth has ended for the time being. The only likely catalyst for improvement is the launch of the iPhone 7, probably in September. Until then, analysts think revenue and earnings per share (EPS) will fall. For the current quarter, the consensus forecast for revenue is a drop of 15% to $42.2 billion. EPS is expected to shrink from $1.85 to $1.39. For the full year, revenue is expected to fall 8% to $215.4 billion, while EPS drop from $9.22 to $8.28.
Forecasts for 2017 must drive the optimism among professional investors. Revenue is expected to rise from $214.4 billion to $226.7 billion. Hardly back to traditional growth, but a modest turnaround nevertheless. EPS are expected to rise from $8.28 to $9.12.
The forecasts may prove correct, or even conservative, unless the iPhone 7 is a bomb.