Goldman Sachs’ Rod Hall eats hat, raises Apple price target to $240

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From a note to clients that landed in my inbox Friday:

 

Apple is set to announce new products on September 12 in Cupertino, CA. In this report we provide a deep dive on various ASP options as well as a sensitivity analysis around various AppleCare+ pricing outcomes. We also illustrate why a $699 price point on the iPhone 9 makes little sense for Apple and would drive a FY19 EPS outcome that is below consensus. In our model we estimate the iPhone 9 prices at $849 and we see some flexibility down to $800 within the constraints of the current iPhone price curve.

Given the better-than-expected iPhone X demand this Summer we doubt Apple is inclined to go for lower price points and we would be tempted to delay availability of iPhone 9 if it were us to see how demand materializes for the much more expensive Xs+.

We also note that the Xs+ feature set is key as unexpected demand drivers beyond just a better camera would be potentially positive for the overall ASP outcome.

We also take this opportunity to eat our hat somewhat on our cautious stance this Summer and raise our 12-month price target to $240. We had expected worse iPhone X demand and some pullback in the stock – clearly neither of these two things happened. Given the limited upside from here to our new price target we stick with a Neutral rating but Apple is once again proving itself tough to bet against.

Maintains Neutral rating and raises price target to $240 from $200.

My take: Goldman Sachs, which dumped 19 million Apple stock in one three-month period last year, had some catching up to do. Since July 31 Hall has raised the bank’s Apple target a total of $76, from $164 to $240.