BAML analyst Wamsi Mohan, who had cut his firm's rating on Apple to neutral in early November, returned his assessment to "buy" with a price target of $210 per share, a 16.6% increase from the bank's previous level. Monhan said that a "large reversal of inventory overhang" for Apple iPhones, as well as stability in the group's global supply chain and "modest" acceleration in services revenue growth has improved the group's valuation. He also predicated the group will announce a near-term share buyback plan.
"We expect Apple to announce a new share buyback program during its F2Q19 earnings in April," Mohan wrote. "In past years, the company has issued new authorizations sized $30 billion to $50 billion. Given the pullback in the stock, we expect Apple to issue at least an incremental $50 billion authorization this time."
"Apple continues to return capital to shareholders in the form of buybacks and dividend, and we model $20 billion of buybacks, per quarter, for the next two quarters, after which we return to a more normal level of $8 billion per quarter," he added.
Apple shares were marked 3.4% higher by mid-afternoon trading Monday to change hands at $178.79 each, a move that would boost the stock's gain from its early January lows to around 25.4%.
Mohan also cut his 2020 iPhone unit sales estimate by 5% to 190 million, but said 5G upgrades will likely support 2021 deliveries, which he boosted by just over 2.3% to 220 million units.