Analysts at Mizuho Securities struck some cautious notes Thursday morning in their latest review of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) in the firm’s global analysis of the Apple ecosystem. Although they are cautious, the analysts maintained their Buy rating on the stock and their $120 price target.
Just a few weeks after Apple CEO Tim Cook’s trip to India, Mizuho said that India is “unlikely” to compensate for Apple’s slowing sales in China. The analysts think that India can support 4% to 5% of Apple’s revenues but “that might not be enough to move the needle in the [near-term].”
Mizuho said that Apple is “at a crossroads with no clear path to growth.” Slowing smartphone sales and disappointing sales of the Apple Watch indicate that the growth pattern of the past few years may be slowing.
The analysts don’t think that India can replace China in Apple’s revenue stream “due to lower wages, strong incumbents at very attractive price points, lack of carrier support and the political environment.” Even if the company gains a toehold in India, Mizuho does not expect Apple to realize more than 2% to 3% of total revenues from sales in the country.
Regarding acquisitions, the Mizuho analysts said:
Any such strategy is bound to create multiple new challenges for the company and will likely be dilutive to [free cash flow] in the [near-term]. We think a media company (Netflix or Time Warner) might make more sense than other alternatives but none of them offer relief in the [near-term].
Here’s Mizuho’s conclusion:
At [its] current price, Apple is not trading as a growth company and risk/reward seems attractive. Our analysis of the life time value of an iPhone customer indicates fair value of the stock in the $120-130 range. Within the supply chain, AVGO and NXPI offer good investment opportunities. Our Japan team recommends Sony.
Apple’s shares traded up about 0.6% in the noon hour Thursday, at $99.54 in a 52-week range of $89.47 to $132.97. The consensus price target is $124.90 and the high price target is $185.