Despite Apple’s outstanding fiscal third quarter numbers, reported on July 27, Apple stock (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. (AAPL) Report failed to find support. Shares were down -1.2% after the quarterly report, after having dipped another -1.5% on earnings day itself.
Some, including BMO Capital’s Tim Long, have argued that AAPL has reached fair valuation. I, on the other hand, believe that the stock has returned to being attractively priced. I present below the calculations that support my thesis.
(Read more from the Apple Maven: Apple Stock: What Wall Street Says About Earnings)
Great business, good valuation
I can not start a debate about Apple stock price and valuations without emphasizing what seems obvious to me. Apple has been executing flawlessly as of late, both during the COVID-19 crisis and through the messy post-pandemic environment of supply chain challenges, limited access to physical stores, etc.
That said, my main concern regarding Apple stock, if at all, tends to be valuations. Around mid-May, I presented the graph below as a key reason to “confidently buy Apple” on year-to-date weakness. Since the day of that article, AAPL has climbed 14% in just short of 12 weeks against the S&P 500’s 5% rise.
Counterintuitively, despite the recent rally, I think that Apple shares have started to head towards undervaluation once again. Think of current year P/E of 28 times as a starting point, which seems rich at first glance. This multiple is based on pre-earnings EPS consensus of $5.18 for fiscal 2021.
After July 27, Apple’s management team presented investors with two new pieces of information. First, fiscal Q3 consensus EPS of $1.01 proved to be understated by 29 cents. Mathematically, and adjusting only for the most recent earnings beat, full-year EPS estimates should have been closer to $5.47.
The other part was fiscal Q4 outlook. While Apple did not provide specific guidance on revenues, it offered directional commentary on sales and offered projections on other P&L items (see below):
- Revenue: Double-digit growth, absent a COVID-19 comeback, but at a rate lower than the 36% seen in June quarter due to foreign exchange, normalization of services trend, and even worse supply constraints on iPhone and iPad.
- Below revenue line: GM between 41.5% and 42.5%, opex between $11.3 billion and $11.5 billion, other income zero, tax rate of 16%.
I went ahead and plugged in the numbers. Wall Street projects revenue growth of 30% in fiscal Q4, which is in line with Apple’s vague outlook. Assuming the mid-point of the guidance range on all other P&L items, I estimate that next quarter’s EPS consensus should settle at $1.21 – about ten cents above where it currently stands.
Lastly, consider that Apple has topped EPS consensus by 14 cents each quarter for the past ten periods. Add ten plus fourteen cents to the $5.47 mentioned above, and we are looking at a reasonable estimate of $5.71 in EPS for the current fiscal year. This represents a current P/E of only 25 times on the stock.
This could be just an interesting coincidence, but a current-year P/E of 25 times was precisely the multiple that AAPL commanded in early May, before it leaped to nearly $150 per share last week. If I considered the stock a “confident buy” back then, I should have the same opinion now, at least for the sake of consistency.
Following robust fiscal Q3 earnings that did not propel AAPL forward, the Apple Maven concluded that the stock is attractively valued once again. What is your opinion?
Is the price right?
Looking at a company’s business fundamentals is only half the work needed to find a good stock. How much one pays to own the shares is a key factor in the success of any investment. This is why valuation analysis is so important.
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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)