NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Apple (AAPL) could introduce a car by as soon as 2019, but assuming an average selling price of $55,000 and 200,000 shipments, the contribution to the tech giant's earnings in that year is probably not enough to "excite" investors, said the research team at Jefferies this morning. However, a car would give the tech giant some "much needed" diversification away from the iPhone and would be positive for the broader tech space, the firm added.
RIPE FOR DISRUPTION: Jefferies analysts Sundeep Bajikar, Mark Lipacis and their team say their analysis indicates the automobile industry is "ripe for disruption" and that Apple is well positioned to introduce a car, potentially as early as 2019. A car could add 32c to Apple's earnings per share in FY19 under a best-case scenario, Bajikar tells investors. He assumes a $55,000 average selling price for an Apple Car and an operating margin of 20%, over 1,000 basis points higher than the Street's 2019 margin estimate for electric carmaker Tesla (TSLA) . Investors are likely to find the assumptions "highly aggressive," the analyst cautions. Meanwhile, the potential earnings impact is probably not big enough for Apple investors to get excited and earnings contributions from a vehicle may not become meaningful before iPhone decelerates, the analysts argue. However, the firm said it could get more constructive on Apple shares if diversification in earnings were to drive less iPhone risk. Bajikar and Lipacis keep a Hold rating on the iPhone maker with a $126 price target.
TOP CHIP PICKS: Efforts in the car market from tech heavyweights Apple and Google (GOOGL) will lead the industry to design and sell more intelligent vehicles, accelerating the growth of semiconductors for automobiles above current forecasts, contend Jefferies' analysts in a separate note to investors this morning. The analysts lay out their top picks among automotive semiconductor suppliers, saying the pending merger of NXP Semiconductors (NXPI) and Freescale (FSL) will create the world's biggest automotive semi company, adding that growth in microcontroller content and networking applications will benefit that combined giant. NVIDIA's (NVDA) automotive sales have grown the fastest since the end of the 2012 fiscal year among the companies the firm follows, while Maxim Integrated (MXIM) had the second fastest growth in that time frame, the analysts noted in naming those two as their other top picks in the space. Lipacis and Bajikar identified Analog Devices (ADI) , Microchip (MCHP) and Linear Technology (LLTC) as other notable beneficiaries from the expected growth of semiconductor content in automobiles.
PRICE ACTION: Amid broad weakness in the market, Apple shares are down 1.5% to $112.56. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Sector index (SOX) is down 2.4% this morning.