One of the core debates on Apple stock right now is just how much the business is likely to slow in the September 2022 fiscal year, as the pandemic’s boost to Mac and iPad sales ebb, and the landmark 5G-capable iPhone 12 approaches its second anniversary. Most Street estimates call for a reversion to single-digit revenue growth, and the more skeptical observers fear a return to flat revenue or worse.
But J.P. Morgan analyst Samik Chatterjee thinks the Street’s conventional wisdom is a little too gloomy. On Thursday, he reiterated his Overweight rating on Apple (ticker: AAPL) stock, lifting his price target to $180 from $175, and boosting his earnings outlook. Underlying his upbeat stance is faith that demand for 5G iPhones is just getting going.
Chatterjee writes that he sees “multiple catalysts” for the stock through year end, including both the upcoming iPhone 13 launch—expected next month—and relatively low expectations for both iPhone units and total revenue for fiscal 2022. He thinks iPhone unit volumes could reach 246 million in calendar 2022, matching the record total he sees for this year. He sees sales driven not only by iPhone 13 but also a 5G-enabled version of the entry-level iPhone SE, which he expects to launch in calendar 2022. The new SE, he writes, will “provide upside through the upgrade of a large installed base that is looking for a more-affordable 5G device.”
The analyst now sees fiscal 2022 revenue of $385.5 billion, up from his previous forecast of $377.6 billion, and above the Street consensus at $379.5 billion. His new forecast implies 5% top-line growth for fiscal 2022, and 7% in fiscal 2023, after an estimated 34% growth rate in the September 2021 fiscal year. Chatterjee lifted his profit forecast for next year to $6 a share from $5.90, above consensus at $5.67.
The analyst says his price target is based on a price/earning multiple of 30 times his updated calendar 2022 EPS estimate of $6.12 a share, up from $6. He says the stock has reached that valuation level as investors have gained confidence in the company’s services strategy, diversifying away from the hardware business. His view is that investors will be comfortable at that valuation range given continued growth in both iPhone demand and services, and increased market share in 5G smartphones.
Apple stock on Thursday is down 0.7% to $145.40.
Write to Eric J. Savitz at email@example.com