Why Barclays Sees Apple as Dead Money in 2017

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) is among the most visible and popular brands in the world. It has become so large that it is the largest nongovernmental company, and it has a cash trove that is larger than the treasuries of most nations.

Unfortunately, Apple’s team of analysts does not always see eye to eye when it comes to this beloved stock. A report on Tuesday, January 24, 2017, from Barclays actually downgraded Apple. The good news here for the Apple bulls is that this downgrade has a lot of a valuation ring to it, even if there are some fundamental issues brought up.

Mark Moskowitz downgraded Apple to Equal Weight from Overweight, and the price target was lowered to $117 from $119. When you consider that Apple shares closed at $120.08 on the prior day, this downgrade may not seem like such a big deal.

There is a fear that iPhone sales will prove to be lackluster during this year. Moskowitz also pointed to the lack of major issues to move the needle in 2017. What is really being said here, particularly in light of such a close analyst target price, is that Apple is going to be dead money. Not all analysts agree with Barclays, but some other recent analyst calls express some of the same concerns.

While the rating change from Barclays is a negative, Markowitz did actually praise what is a sticky ecosystem of its apps and software. Another positive is Apple’s vast cash and the coming tenth iPhone anniversary. These points were said to continue to support long-term investors.

As a reminder, this call is among other cautious calls ahead of next week’s earnings report. Apple’s consensus analyst target price has ticked higher of late. The consensus analyst target price is $133.40, though it was $131.96 just a month ago and down at $128.85 shortly before the November election.

Thomson Reuters sees revenues of almost $77.4 billion and $3.22 in earnings per share for the first quarter of 2017 (December-end).

Apple shares were last seen down 12 cents at $119.96 in the noon hour on Tuesday. They have a 52-week range of $89.47 to $120.81, and the market cap is $133.45.

While this Barclays report was a negative one, there was also news on Tuesday morning that the U.S. International Trade Commission will investigate a complaint filed by Nokia. The European tech player has alleged that Apple has imported electronics, smart phones and tablets that infringe on its patents.

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