Apple (AAPL - Get Report) shares have been hot as the market has grown optimistic about U.S. - China tariff talks, but they have a lot more steam in them should the two sides come to a resolution, one analyst said.
"With the US now potentially willing to hold off on the additional $325 billion worth of tariffs this could remove a major overhang from Apple, which has become the poster child for this US/China trade war, as we believe the Street has been factoring in more of a worst case scenario for Cook & Co.," wrote WedBush Securities analyst Dan Ives in a note.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told CNBC Wednesday morning the two economic powerhouses are "ninety percent of the way there" on a trade deal, helping send Apple shares up 2.56% to $200.58.
Apple investors had sold the stock in May, as Trump had indicated he was kicking around the possibility of enacting additional tariffs on goods coming in from China, which would include iPhones. The stock fell from $211 on May 3 to $173 on June 3. As sentiment on a trade deal has improved, the stock has risen back to $200.
The most bullish Wall Street analyst's price target is $245, shared by two analysts, while Ives values Apple at $235 a share. "We believe a resolution to the China tariff situation could add between $20-$25 per share to Apple's stock over the coming months in our opinion, as this would take away the dark cloud currently shadowing the stock," Ives wrote.
Further tariffs could mean 10% or more of cost increases for Apple, Ives had previously estimated. Most analysts agree Apple would likely absorb the added costs rather than increasing prices for consumers. Earnings per share could fall roughly $3 from the current forward one-year estimates of roughly $12, analysts estimate, if additional tariffs were levied. Keeping Apple's current forward price-to-earnings multiple of 15.9, that scenario would see the stock all the way down to $143.
There was some conversation within Apple of moving production to Vietnam, but "Apple would only be able to move 5%-7% of iPhone production to India over the next year if the China tariff situation were to spiral down a negative and nasty path," Ives said.
Most analysts see Apple going well above $200 a share in large part because its services business could grow significantly, and should carry an earnings multiple at or above 20. Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty says that multiple, mixed with a lower multiple on hardware earnings, would bring the stock's multiple of total earnings well above where it currently is. Her price target is $231.
On tariffs, the U.S. and China will speak at the G20 meeting in Osaka Japan this weekend, a pivotal event for overall trade relations between the two countries.
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