Apple (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report iPhone and Samsung (SSNLF) S7 inventory levels were driven to "lean" levels in February due to the return of several generous carrier promotions, according to a note Pacific Crest Securities sent to investors on Monday morning. Meanwhile, iPhone 8 interest is building momentum ahead of its expected September release.
iPhone 7 store inventories declined month over month to just under four days from five days in January, according to Pacific Crest's monthly surveys of carriers in North America and Western Europe. Last month, AT&T (T) - Get AT&T Inc. Report offered a "buy one, get one free" promotion for the iPhone 7 if a customer added a new line. In addition, Sprint (S) - Get SentinelOne, Inc. Class A Report and T-Mobile (TMUS) - Get T-Mobile US, Inc. Report offered free trade-ins that could be put toward the purchase of an iPhone 7.
Based on the data, the firm recommends buying Apple chip suppliers Analog Devices (ADI) - Get Analog Devices, Inc. Report , Broadcom (AVGO) - Get Broadcom Inc. Report and Integrated Device Technology (IDTI) - Get Integrated Device Technology, Inc. Report .
February promotions from AT&T and T-Mobile also helped drive Samsung Galaxy S7 inventories down to healthy levels, the firm noted. Inventories for the S7 remained below the targeted range of six to 10 days. "Additionally, we also observed active inventory management at several carrier stores ahead of the GS8 launch as stores indicated they were receiving fewer shipments," the note said.
The fall in inventory for the two phones is a positive for both companies, as well as for the handset supply chain ahead of the Galaxy S8 and the iPhone 8 releases. The Galaxy S8 is expected to be unveiled on March 29, while the next iPhone is expected to be released in September.
However, the Galaxy S8 might not see as much demand as the iPhone 8, according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who sent a note to investors on the matter over the weekend. The Galaxy Note 8 "lacks sufficiently attractive selling points," meaning the iPhone 8 could be "a bigger draw for consumers," the well-regarded Apple analyst reportedly wrote in a note obtained by 9to5Mac.
Kuo expects Samsung to ship 40 million to 45 million Galaxy S8 units in fiscal 2017, which suggests less momentum than the Galaxy S7 had with its 52 million units shipped in fiscal 2016. He attributes this difference in sales to a one-month difference in comparable sales period.
The iPhone 8 is expected to have OLED (organic light-emitting diode displays) for a brighter display and better power conservation, as well as wireless charging and a front camera that can take 3-D images for augmented reality features. While not much information has come out about the Galaxy S8 specs, it is rumored to have a larger screen than the S7, as well as better processors and an improved camera, according to CNBC.
Loup Ventures also sees strong interest in the iPhone 8, according to its survey of 502 people in the US that it released a note on this morning. Among the 234 iPhone owners in the surveyed group, 23% indicted that they expected to upgrade to the iPhone 8, topping the 15% that said they intended to upgrade to the iPhone 7 ahead of its launch last September (the iPhone 7 data point is from when Loup Ventures founder Gene Munster was still at Piper Jaffray).
Munster noted that the iPhone 7 interest survey was conducted two months before its release, while this iPhone 8 interest survey was conducted 8 months ahead of its expected launch. "As we get closer to launch, the rumor mill can positively or negatively impact excitement about buying," he wrote. "If the rumors live up to the early hype, interest will likely increase; if they don't, interest may decrease."