The July quarter is usually Apple’s slowest quarter. It’s during the summer, and Apple usually releases a new iPhone in September, well after the quarter ends.
This year, analysts don’t see much short-term upside at all.
UBS analyst Steven Milunovich says there probably “won’t be too many positives in the quarter.” He writes in a research note:
“Other than solid Services growth and maybe some improvement in China, there probably won’t be too many positives in the quarter. Although the product cycle is soft, the ecosystem is strong — most of the debate is about when, not if, iPhone customers will upgrade.”
He concludes that Apple’s long-term outlook appears better than its short-term outlook, and gives the stock a “buy” rating with a price target of $115.
Stifel analysts are also having a hard time finding a silver lining in the short-term. It estimates that Apple will ship 39.7 million iPhones this quarter. Last year it sold 47.5 million during the same time period.
It’s also estimating that Apple will tally $41.3 billion in revenue — on the low end of Apple’s own $41-$43 billion guidance. Stifel gives Apple a “buy” rating and a target price of $120.
Looking forward, JP Morgan analysts also have an underwhelming opinion on next quarter’s outlook.
“Our revenue estimate for the September quarter is ~2% below consensus as we remain concerned about weaker consumer demand driven by macro conditions. We believe this could be exacerbated by consumers delaying upgrades this Fall in favour of a reported large form factor change in 2017.”
Of course, all these analysts are bullish on the stock in the long term, even if the rest of 2016 might be a bumpy road for Apple.
Because of the way Apple’s upgrade cycle is shaping up — hundreds of millions of people are using older iPhones and will need to upgrade soon — and the possibility that next year’s iPhone could be a very hot seller, analysts believe that 2017 could be a “powder keg” for Apple and will propel the company back to growth.
So Apple investors just need to hang on for the ride.
“We believe iPhone sales will … grow 15% in F18 on a strong upgrade cycle, justifying a higher multiple,” Milunovich writes.
Apple reports its third-quarter earnings on July 26 after the market closes.