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Apple Stock: Holiday Season Starts, What Next?

The 2021 holiday shopping season has officially started. Here is what Apple investors should expect of the Cupertino company and its stock in the next few weeks.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us. With that, the 2021 holiday season in the US and parts of the world has officially begun. Consumer product and service companies like Apple are staring into the busiest weeks of sales in the year.

Figure 1: Apple's iPhone, Apple Watch and Air Pods boxes.

Figure 1: Apple's iPhone, Apple Watch and Air Pods boxes.

Today, the Apple Maven talks about what Apple stock  (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report investors should think about as the shopping season kicks into gear.

(Read more from the Apple Maven: Apple Stock: iPhone Strength Has Become Consensus)

Apple to benefit from strong consumer

At the highest level possible, Apple is likely to benefit from a rising tide that lifts all boats in 2021. The chart below clearly shows that consumer spending in the US has not only recovered from the 2020 flash recession, but it has been “making up for lost time”. Spending trends have even accelerated slightly compared to the pre-pandemic period.

Figure 2: Consumer spending in US.

Figure 2: Consumer spending in US.

Regarding the holiday period, however, consumer product and service sales may look a bit atypical. Adobe has recently reported that Black Friday activity online dropped year-over-year for the first time ever. Online sales reached $8.9 billion, lower than 2020’s $9 billion.

Without context, these numbers may look concerning. But once again, there is nothing typical about this COVID-19 crisis. Black Friday likely suffered from (1) consumers buying earlier than usual, to avoid delayed deliveries in late November and December, and (2) supply chain constraints causing shortages and missed sales opportunities.

Apple could do better than average

The demand scenario described above is at least modestly optimistic, in my view, even if not without challenges on the supply side. Even so, I think that Apple has a good chance of performing better than average in the next few weeks.

For starters, the Cupertino company is one of the best in the world at managing inventory and supply chain. Consider, however, that CEO Tim Cook has already warned of an impact of $6 billion to revenues in the holiday quarter caused by the production and logistics bottlenecks.

Second, the demand for Apple’s products and services seems unshaken. I have discussed a few times that the iPhone, for example, is likely to have its best years of sales ever in fiscal 2021 and 2022. Not even the tough comps introduced by the first 5G-capable model will likely be enough to steal the thunder of a well-received iPhone 13.

But how about AAPL stock?

Keep in mind that financial performance, especially in the short term, does not always correlate with share price movements. In fact, any impact that the holiday P&L results may have on Apple stock would likely not happen until late January 2022, when the company reports fiscal Q1 earnings.

For the immediate term, Apple investors should keep in mind that the stock’s seasonal patterns have been historically unfavorable around this time of the year. The chart below shows that AAPL has clearly underperformed in November through January. Will this time be any different? Only time will tell.

Figure 3: AAPL average monthly return since iPhone launch.

Figure 3: AAPL average monthly return since iPhone launch.

Twitter speaks

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are in the rearview mirror, and the 2021 holiday season has started. Do you think that the next few weeks of shopping will have an impact on Apple stock?

Is the price right?

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(Disclaimers: this is not investment advice. The author may be long one or more stocks mentioned in this report. Also, the article may contain affiliate links. These partnerships do not influence editorial content. Thanks for supporting The Apple Maven)