Apple's in a League of Its Own and Samsung Is Riding the Bench

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Samsung (SSNLF) is dead and Apple (AAPL) has killed it.

Rob Cira, analyst at Evercore Partners, raised his price target on Apple Wednesday to $115 from $100. Apple shares are at $93.50, up close to 17% for the year to date including 25% gains since Apple reported fiscal second-quarter earnings in April.

In his note he says, "We see Apple creating its own growth through uniquely innovative hardware+software with integrated services vs. a sea of otherwise commodity devices."

It's his reference to "sea of commodity devices" that tells me Apple has finally killed off Samsung. And two years ago, CEO Tim Cook told you exactly how Apple planned to do it.

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With roughly three weeks before Apple reports fiscal third-quarter results, investors waiting for a better entry point will be disappointed. The median price target for these shares are now at $100, suggesting (at least) 7% upside from current levels. This does not even factor the $130 billion Apple expects to return to shareholders by the end of 2015.

As Tim Cook promised, Apple is a new company. We learned this in the first few minutes of his keynote at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference last month. Apple's HomeKit, its new home automation platform is the next battleground.

Apple's software capabilities and the breadth of its ecosystem will spur "smarthomes" and smart devices as the new growth area. Samsung is nowhere to found.

These smart devices will require connectivity. Right now it is a highly fragmented space where several manufacturers have their own proprietary home automation platforms that make it difficult for the hardware to talk to the software. Apple's ecosystem will fix this problem by unifying the standard.

Analysts like Chira are now realizing that Samsung is nowhere to found.

Recall, when Apple stock began its 44% decline from its pre-split high of $705 to around $388, the was no bigger winner in Apple's punishment than Samsung. In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, former Samsung America CEO Dale Sohn once wrote in a presentation, "Beating Apple is no longer merely an objective. It is our survival strategy."

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