Apple firmly on course for $1 trillion valuation, analysts say

Reuters

Posted at Nov 04 2017 05:05 AM

Apple Inc's shares rose to a record high on Friday as more analysts set a trillion-dollar valuation on the company, following a blowout fourth quarter and an upbeat forecast that quashed investor concerns around the iPhone X.

The stock rose as much as 3.7 percent to $174.26, briefly breaching $900 billion in market value, amid declines in the broader market. The gains added nearly $32 billion to the company's market capitalization.

The Cupertino, California-based company also forecast a strong holiday quarter ahead, which will include the iPhone X that started selling on Nov. 3.

"We see iPhone X unlocking pent-up iPhone upgrades, especially in China, driving more than 20 percent iPhone unit growth and a revenue and earnings beat in 2018," analyst Katy Huberty on Morgan Stanley said.

The glass-and-steel $999 phone appeared to have brought back the frenzy associated with iPhone launches - long lines formed outside Apple stores across the world as fans flocked to buy the new phone.

The company will make 30 million iPhone X units during the current quarter, Nomura Instinet analysts estimated, allaying production worries related to the phone.

IPhone X's launch follows weeks of concerns among analysts about the production of the phone, which for the first time includes new facial identification software to replace the fingerprint used on previous phones.

Apple said on Thursday it expects first-quarter revenue of $84 billion to $87 billion, at the high end of analysts' average expectation of $84.18 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"We – and many others – had feared that guidance could be weaker, reflecting only 9 weeks of the flagship iPhone X and limitations on supply," Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi said.

At least 13 brokerages raised their price targets on the stock, with Citigroup making the most bullish move by raising its price target by $30 to $200.

Of the 37 analysts that track the stock, as per Thomson Reuters data, 31 had a "buy", or higher rating. None had a "sell".

With the latest brokerage actions, at least nine Wall Street analysts now have target prices that put Apple's market value above $1 trillion. Drexel Hamilton's Brian White is still the most bullish among Apple analysts tracked by Thomson Reuters, raising his target price further to $235.

Apple's fourth-quarter results underscored the company's ability to drive growth not just on iPhones, but across its range of products, analysts said.

The company's suite now includes five different iPhone models, the iPad, the Mac and the Apple Watch as well as its fast-growing services.

Apple said it sold 46.7 million iPhones in the fourth quarter ended Sept. 30, above analysts' estimates of 46.4 million, according to financial data and analytics firm FactSet. Mac and iPad sales too were above the estimates of most analysts.