Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) has been at the center of conversation in the tech world for over a decade, and it is still finding ways to drive sales and lead the market. The upcoming release of the iPhone 7 has been drawing an especially high amount of attention, with design controversies and a new iOS. However, this increased attention and data from major cell providers is making analysts think that this could be a better than expected iPhone cycle in both volume in mix. Additionally, one analyst’s conversations with display suppliers is supporting its iPhone 8 super-cycle thesis.
Credit Suisse reiterated an Outperform rating with a $150 price target, which is practically an extra 20% on top of the consensus price target. Along with the bold price target, the firm raised its 2016 and 2017 calendar year earnings per share (EPS) estimates by 3% each to $8.22 and $10.09, respectively. The previous estimates were $7.95 for 2016 and $9.84 for 2017.
Considering high retention rates, a superior ecosystem and a multi-product compute advantage, Credit Suisse believes that free cash flow of roughly $67 billion should be sustainable long term.
Build plans as noted by Credit Suisse’s tech team in Japan, as well as recent announcements from Sprint and T-Mobile, suggest that the iPhone 7 cycle may be stronger than anticipated. As a result, the brokerage firm now projects calendar 2016 and 2017 iPhone volumes of 215 million and 221 million, up from 208 million and 217 million, respectively. Also, the firm maintained its calendar 2018 estimates at 249 million units.
Credit Suisse detailed in its report:
Over the past few weeks, we have run two surveys pre and post the iPhone launch of 6,000 (4,500 iPhone) participants, both of which suggest a potential positive mix shift. We now estimate the iPhone 7/7 Plus mix to be 67%/33%, an improvement over the 70%/30% mix that the iPhone 6s cycle saw. The survey also showed that 60% of iPhone users plan to upgrade their phones within 1 year, with an implied replacement rate of all iPhone users of 29 months, faster than the 32 months we assume in our installed base analysis. While we note this was a US based survey, we believe it still implies a positive trend. Also, we see the memory mix improving as well, supported by 81% of our survey respondents indicating that they will upgrade to either the mid or high tier memory options. We now estimate Average Sales Prices of $632/$661 and iPhone gross margins of 39.5%/40.5% for calendar 2016 and 2017.
Shares of Apple were trading up nearly 3% at $115.07 on Thursday, with a consensus analyst price target of $123.66. The stock has a range of $89.47 to $123.82 for the past 52-weeks.