Trading at all-time highs, Apple (AAPL) is up 20% for the year already. With Citi raising its price target for the stock to $160 recently, many investors believe Apple's stock will only continue climbing.
And we couldn't agree more, the more than $700 billion company is a solid long-term growth opportunity. With the iPhone's 10th anniversary, a plethora of opportunities in developing markets, strong software growth potential and prospective tax reforms, Apple's stock is in good stead.
In addition to Citi's $160 target for the stock, Guggenheim Securities has elevated Apple's price target to $180. Legendary investor, Warren Buffett revealed last month that he more than doubled his stake in the tech giant.
Clearly, the momentum is with Apple, which gained in strength since its principal rival Samsung met with a string of disasters.
Alphabet's (GOOG) (GOOGL) Google Pixel is pushing the envelope but isn't expected to drill a major hole in the iPhone's share of the smartphone market (Apple sold over 70 million phones in just one quarter).
The 10th anniversary iPhone is slated to be a massive success. Apart from its flexible display, the $1,000 phone promises a host of features, including better hardware, larger base storage, a whole set of new high-tech features such as iris and facial recognition, 3D image capturing and enhanced gaming functionalities.
Rising demand from developing markets outside of North America is going to be Apple's main revenue driver in the near future.
Morgan Stanley's analysts have spotlighted China as the key market for this year's iPhone iteration. A base shipment of 72 million units in the country during FY 2018 is expected.
And then there's India. Apple is expected to soon start assembling the 4-inch iPhone SE at its new Bengaluru plant.
If the government's nod on a list of tax concessions comes through, it should boost Apple's long-term potential. In 2015, "smartphone sales in India eclipsed those in the US for the first time ever," according to Counterpoint Research.
Once phones sales push upward, revenues will also begin to rise.
The company's services business produced nearly $25 billion in revenues for fiscal 2016, with plans to double that by fiscal 2020. New phones will bring greater usage figures, which when coupled with the monetization of iTunes, the App Store, Apple Music, iCloud, and Apple Pay will lead to increased higher margin sales.
Apple's massive cash chest of about $246 billion, means Apple can create and sell its own content through its channels.
Most players in this category, such as Netflix (NFLX) , Amazon (AMZN) and Facebook (FB) , cannot afford Apple's scale. This is because Apple can easily strike big deals with Walt Disney Co. (DIS) and Time Warner (TWX) , generating substantial new content to keep new users hooked, without facing any major financial challenges.
Finally, Donald Trump's much-awaited tax reform could usher in a host of benefits, from both corporate tax reduction as well as cash repatriation.
Analysts estimate that a probable decrease in the U.S. corporate tax rate from 35% to 15% would drive a 6% earnings per share upswing.
With so many potential triggers out there, the Apple ascent is virtually unstoppable.
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