Wall Street’s coming around on Apple.
Shares of the iPhone maker soared more than 6% on Wednesday after reporting earnings the previous evening, topping $1 trillion in market capitalization. Apple beat analysts’ expectations on earnings and revenue for the fiscal second quarter, as well as their outlook for the company’s third quarter.
The results empowered Apple bulls, particularly those who believe in the company’s mission to tilt its business more toward services like iCloud and Apple Music, which grew 16% year over year.
Here are four Wall Street experts’ reactions to the quarter:
Gene Munster, managing partner at Loup Ventures, saw several things that made him bullish:
“This company is an earnings powerhouse, and I want to put that into perspective. We just usually gloss over that [earnings per share] number. They’re going to earn more money over the next five years — this is what we estimate — compared to overall FANG combined, or call it equal amount. So this is underappreciated, I think, by investors, and an important part: GAAP earnings powerhouse. The second is I want to put a finer point on China. It did improve. Specifically, the iPhone was the pain point last quarter. We estimate that the iPhone – this is not a reported number – was down 40%, 4-0, in the December quarter, and it was likely down 28% in the March quarter, so that was kind of the magnitude of improvement. And the last is the significance of the buyback. […] This buyback … is a huge deal. And just to put it into perspective, if they make good on their promise — we’re going to be listening on the call for the timing on this — to be net cash neutral, if they make good on that promise over the next five years, that theoretically should raise the stock price by about 25%. I won’t go through the details and the math on that, but those are my three biggest takeaways. They’re less about this quarter. If I had to add a fourth, which is an important one, it’s this is probably the best play on 5G, and we’re going to get tired of hearing about Apple and 5G, but stay tuned for more on that.”
Guy Adami, director of advisor advocacy at Private Advisor Group and a trader on CNBC’s “Fast Money,” said the latest quarter should push market watchers to reevaluate Apple’s valuation:
“I’m not going to pretend to be disingenuous. For me to pretend I’ve been some raging Apple bull — I have not. Most of the people on the desk have; I haven’t. But one thing we’ve said is as revenues continue to grow in services, and now they’re 19.7%, the valuation of Apple has to get better, and that [is], I think, what’s happening now. The question you have to ask yourself is, as that number of services goes from 20% to 25[%], what is the right multiple for Apple? I would submit it’s close to a market multiple, maybe 18 times. That gets you to a $235 stock, thereabouts. If you want to give them a bit of a discount, 16, 16.5 [times], it’s fairly priced here. But I think that’s the calculus that you have to do going out of these numbers now.”
Chatham Road Partners’ director of research, Colin Gillis, wasn’t as impressed as others:
“[Apple CEO] Tim Cook lacks founder’s flame, and he’s going to be known, at least in my book, as the buyback king. He’s a buyback CEO. His No. 1 accomplishment has been returning that $300 billion to shareholders. And fine, that’s quite an accomplishment, but it also means you had no ideas. You had no ideas to better deploy that cash. And I think in 10 years from now, we may look at this cycle and the cash flow that has been generated from the iPhone and the lack of innovation to be able to deploy that cash and be regretful that Apple wasn’t able to come up with new revenue streams.”
Jeremy Bryan, senior portfolio manager at Gradient Investments, remained strategic:
“The thesis is still right for us. It’s up 30% year to date. It’s back to about a five-year high in valuation, so we think it was just prudent to take some off the table. The report looks good. We think the numbers look good. We still own a portion of it. But I think it was still prudent to take some off.”