Count Raymond James analyst Tavis McCourt among the doubters when it comes to the question of whether Apple’s new iPhone X is going to spur a “supercycle” that will boost the company’s sales and earnings.
Despite that, he’s as bullish as ever on the company’s stock.
The issue of the “supercycle” has been one of the big debates this fall among Wall Street analysts who cover Apple. Basically, the theory of “supercycle” proponents goes like this: There are a lot of people who bought the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus three years ago. Those phones are ageing, and many owners will want to upgrade now. Taken together, that batch of upgraders and consumer interest in Apple’s all-new iPhone X will propel a “supercycle” of sales.
McCourt is in the sceptic camp. He expects strong demand for the iPhone X, but does not expect greater-than-normal upgrade purchases from consumers.
But he thinks the company’s going to benefit regardless. And he bumped up his price target for the company’s shares, a sign of his bullishness.
McCourt’s thinking was influenced by a new survey conducted by his firm. Only 37% of current iPhone owners plan to upgrade in the next year, according to the survey. In the last three years, some 44%, on average, intended to upgrade their phones.
The survey “suggests no evidence of an accelerated upgrade cycle for the 8 or X, but it does suggest a surprising demand for the X over the 8 given the price differential and lack of killer app,” McCourt wrote in a note distributed to clients on Tuesday. He added: “The data suggests that this year’s refresh may not drive the proverbial ‘supercycle’ that many have predicted.”
McCourt predicts Apple’s sales in the December quarter will disappoint Wall Street, because he believes the company won’t be able to mass produce the iPhone X until mid-October.
But the Raymond James analyst is more optimistic longer term. McCourt says his model is generally higher than the Wall Street consensus for the first half of next year. That’s when he expects the company to have ramped up iPhone X production.
And he thinks Apple will benefit from the higher price of the new phone. The iPhone X has a starting price of about $US1,000. By contrast, last year’s new phones, the iPhone 7 models, had a starting price of around $US650.
McCourt predicts that the average price of each phone Apple sells will go up by 10%, thanks largely to the iPhone X. And he predicts Apple’s gross margin — the difference between what customers pay for its products and the company’s direct costs of producing them — will go up by two percentage points.
Raymond James updated it its price target for Apple, bumping it to $US180 from $US150.
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