NEW YORK (TheStreet) - Five weeks after Apple(AAPL) - Get Report unveiled its bigger iPhone models -- the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus - the tech giant unveiled its latest tablet version and upgrades to its iMac desktop computer on Thursday.
The iPad Air 2 is 6.1 millimeters thin, 18% thinner than the previous version, CEO Tim Cook said at a media event on Thursday in Cupertino, Calif.
Apple, which has seen sales of iPad's slow in recent quarters, hopes to reverse that trend with the launch of the new iPads - just in time for the holiday season.
Shares were rising 1.2% to $97.45 at markets open. Here's what analysts said about Apple:
Andrew Uerkwitz, Oppenheimer (Outperform: $115 PT)
Apple introduced new models for its tablet and desktop PC products. We are most impressed with the iPad Air 2, which received significant upgrades across all key aspects (CPU, wireless, camera, size, sensor, and fingerprint). We see iPad Air 2 as the big winner and believe it has the potential to invigorate tablet sales over time. The other notable takeaway is the surprising 5K display on the new 27-inch Mac. We are interested to see its impact on 4K TV, and consumer perception of high performance, higher resolution displays. Bottom line: the technology gap between this year's product launches (phone/tablet/PC) and last year's is more significant than we anticipated, ultimately providing a deep bench for future launches. Maintain Outperform and $115 PT.
Yesterday, we attended Apple's Special Event in Cupertino that included an update to the iPad and Mac families, combined with a firm launch date (this Monday, 10/20) for Apple Pay with iOS 8.1 and availability of Yosemite for the Mac. Additionally, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus launched in China today, setting up a major upgrade cycle in the country, in our view. Given all the new product introductions and innovations unveiled by Apple over the past several weeks, we believe the company has positioned itself extremely well this holiday season and through the Chinese New Year in early 2015. More importantly, we believe Apple is in the midst of what we view as a "super cycle" that we expect will keep the stock heading in an upward trajectory, as reflected in our 12-month price target of $123.00.
In our view, the iPad makes an excellent gift and yesterday's refresh with the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 that includes the addition of a third color (i.e., gold) and Touch ID, bodes well for demand this holiday season. We also expect these new gold iPads to be met with strong demand during the Chinese New Year in early 2015. Although Apple may not have surprised the market with the products that were announced yesterday, we believe the thinness of the iPad Air 2 was a major surprise given that Apple had already reduced the thickness of the original iPad Air by 20% compared to the prior iPad iteration. During the hands-on session, we took the iPad Air 2 for a test drive, and we found the device to be "insanely" thin.
Jim Suva, Citigroup (Buy; $120 PT)
Our estimates are meaningfully above consensus as we recently increased our estimates due to higher than expected iPhone 6 pricing & mix which we believe will upside sales, margins, and EPS. We maintain our Buy rating on AAPL shares with a Target Price of $120 (10x FY2016 PE, and then we add back cash per share). While we acknowledge stock price volatility post launch of new iPhones/iPads, our thesis also includes Device Acceleration where carriers are making it easier than ever to upgrade customer smart phones before typical 2 year contract period is over. We are very encouraged by the initial strong demand and we believe consensus will see upside surprise from higher average selling prices (ASPs) as well as margins from iPhone 6.
Ben A. Reitzes, Barclays (Overweight; $116 PT)
This afternoon Apple hosted a special event at the company's headquarters. All of the new products were basically as we expected but still impressive nonetheless - and importantly - configured at levels very supportive to gross margins. Apple introduced the very thin iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 which include TouchID and seem to position Apple better for commercial use cases going forward. Our view is new tablets and Macs could amplify the upside in ASP's/margins that we already believe is possible from a very strong iPhone cycle. In fact, we see potential for margin upside at Apple given a mix shift toward the iPhone 6 plus form factor through the next several quarters, starting in December. We believe gross margin is Apple's most important metric and the new iPhones help but after the March quarter, the Apple Watch could also start to play a major role in EPS and margin upside. Reiterate OW.
Sundeep Bajikar, Jefferies (Hold; $110 PT)
We continue to believe that Apple has an opportunity to scale software/services monetization across a larger device installed base like Google. We believe Enterprise is one such market where investments focused on developing new business-specific apps have potential to grow Apple's device installed base much more than device hardware enhancements would. Apple's partnership with IBM could help advance iOS in Enterprise more than Office on iPad has done so far.
[The] iPad Air 2 is thinner, lighter, and features a moregraphics-capable A8X processor, attributes that Apple's traditional customer base is likely toappreciate. However, we estimate that iPad shipments declined by 2% over last 12 months,losing 800 bps of share to Android and Windows tablets. We expect tablet competitionto intensify further, and believe Apple is taking the right steps to advance its enterpriseecosystem through its IBM partnership, assuming limited help from Office on iPad.
"We rate APPLE INC (AAPL) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, notable return on equity, expanding profit margins and solid stock price performance. Although no company is perfect, currently we do not see any significant weaknesses which are likely to detract from the generally positive outlook."
Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:
- Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 9.2%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 6.0%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
- Although AAPL's debt-to-equity ratio of 0.26 is very low, it is currently higher than that of the industry average. Along with the favorable debt-to-equity ratio, the company maintains an adequate quick ratio of 1.18, which illustrates the ability to avoid short-term cash problems.
- The return on equity has improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. When compared to other companies in the Computers & Peripherals industry and the overall market, APPLE INC's return on equity exceeds that of the industry average and significantly exceeds that of the S&P 500.
- 44.56% is the gross profit margin for APPLE INC which we consider to be strong. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 20.69% is above that of the industry average.
- Investors have apparently begun to recognize positive factors similar to those we have mentioned in this report, including earnings growth. This has helped drive up the company's shares by a sharp 45.33% over the past year, a rise that has exceeded that of the S&P 500 Index. Regarding the stock's future course, although almost any stock can fall in a broad market decline, AAPL should continue to move higher despite the fact that it has already enjoyed a very nice gain in the past year.
- You can view the full analysis from the report here: AAPL Ratings Report
-Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.
Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.