Apple is the best way to play 5G, says tech investor Gene Munster

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Apple is the “best play” around 5G, noted tech investor Gene Munster told CNBC on Monday.

Investors just need to be patient. The adoption rate for 5G in the U.S. isn’t expected to reach 70% until 2021 or 2022, he said on “Power Lunch.”

“The hype is inevitable to come. The best play around that is, in fact, Apple. They have an iPhone cycle that will benefit from that. Also, augmented reality [and] some of their health-care initiatives,” said Munster, founder of the venture capital firm Loup Ventures.

“The company is exceptionally well-positioned for investors who want to play 5G, but I strongly advise to have some patience around when that lift is going to take off,” he added.

There are some who think Apple may be left behind in the race for 5G. Last week, Verizon began rolling out its 5G wireless network. Right now, only the Motorola Z3 supports the network, but Samsung will launch a Galaxy S10 5G model later this quarter that will be exclusive to Verizon to start.

However, in a note to investors last week, UBS analyst Timothy Arcuri wrote that there is “increasing potential that Apple may not be able to ship a 5G iPhone for 2020.”

He thinks it would be a near-term headwind. “Our install base and replacement analysis suggests iPhone can ultimately grow over the longer term,” Arcuri said.

Munster said anyone who thinks Apple will miss the 5G window has a “misguided view.”

“There’s two basic views of owning Apple. One is that this is a product cycle company and that you own it … when numbers are negative around the iPhone in anticipation of the numbers turning positive,” he said. “5G … will clearly drive that.”

The other is the idea of Apple as a service company, a “more sustainable model,” he added.

“Both of those narratives should get a lift” from 5G, he said. “That’s why I think it’s the best-positioned company. I feel strongly that this stock will act positively — hard to predict the quarter when that happens — but over the next two years we should get that lift.”

— CNBC’s Michael Sheetz and Todd Haselton contributed to this report.


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