Wall Street has a new biggest Apple bull.
Longtime technology analyst Daniel Ives, fresh off a move to Wedbush Securities from GBH Insights, initiated coverage of Apple with an outperform rating and a 12-month price target of $310. His forecast — higher than that of any other analyst on the Street — implies more than 40 percent upside over the next year from Thursday’s close.
The analyst is so bullish because he believes the company will sell a lot more higher-priced iPhones next year than his peers expect.
“With positively trending average selling prices that we believe can approach about $800 in fiscal 2019 and healthy gross margins heading into this 2019 product cycle that are showing no signs of abating … we believe many of the growth fears on the Street have been alleviated around Apple in the near term,” Ives said in a note to clients Thursday.
With the investing world’s attention fixed on Apple’s ability to sell its latest generation of iPhones, Ives said he wouldn’t be surprised to see 350 million units upgraded during the next 12 to 18 months. Consensus estimates model iPhone shipments of about 220 million units, a projection he deemed potentially “conservative.” Ives also added the security to Wedbush’s “best ideas” list.
“This upcoming product cycle remains a linchpin for Cook & Co. to lay the groundwork for ‘steady’ iPhone growth for the next few years,” he added. “The three new iPhone releases with XS, XS Max, and XR released in September will help capture the underlying demand/upgrades among customers that have decided to bypass the 8/8+/X cycle last time around.”
The analyst also highlighted the company’s Services business as an area where he expects growth in the coming years.
“In our opinion, that’s the linchpin. Because when you look at a sum-of-the-parts, Services: we think that business alone is about half a trillion, I’ll call it $450 billion,” Ives said on CNBC’s “Power Lunch” Friday afternoon.”That’s really what the Street’s starting to reanalyze.”
“We think when you do a sum-of-the-parts, the core iPhone business is worth about $1 trillion and half a billion for the Services,” he said.
The latest generation of phones under CEO Tim Cook exhibit a number of refinements from their iPhone X parents. While all three phones include now-staple features like facial recognition and wireless charging, those choosing to upgrade to the latest models have highlighted larger screens and improved memory.
The XS Max, for example, includes a 6.5-inch display, larger than Samsung’s popular Galaxy Note 9, which has a 6.4-inch screen.
Shares of Apple rose 1.5 percent Friday following Ives’s note. The stock has performed well so far this year, up 29 percent since January and 40 percent year over year.
Ives’s target vaults him ahead of Brian White at Monness Crespi Hardt, who has a $300 forecast. The average forecast of analysts on Wall Street is $239, according to FactSet. Apple closed at $216.02 on Thursday.