Bernstein Research’s Toni Sacconaghi has a price target of $725 as well as an Outperform rating on Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), but the analyst is not ruling out the stock dropping lower than its current $430 mark. Sacconaghi told CNBC in an interview on Tuesday that Apple’s movement — either up or down — will depend on the company’s next step in terms of dividends and product announcements.
“In the short term, Apple is at an interesting inflation point,” he said, according to Barron’s. “Investors are clamoring for Apple to return more cash. They have created an expectation they could return materially more cash. If they do, the stock could move up by $40 or $50. If there’s no incremental cash return before the earnings report in April, or if it’s only modestly higher, I think you see the stock trading lower.”
The analyst added that further danger could come from lower guidance from the company for the June quarter. “The numbers for the June quarter are too high, and so the specter of guidance that might come in lower could push the stock below $400,” he said. “The stock’s very inexpensively valued and an exceptional value for long-term investors. But it is still owned mostly by growth investors, and they need to see new product, and incremental upside for revenue.”
That upside may come from adding new wireless carriers or launching a “converged device” that combined the form and function of a tablet with a notebook.
“That would create a lot of excitement because it would renew prospects for growth,” he added. “Right now, their principal products, at the high end of the smartphone market, are facing maturing product cycles.”
However, he stressed that the Apple stock’s fate was in its own hands and not dependent on Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) next move, like some suggest.
“I think Apple announcements often carry more than the average weight,” he said. “You have to remember that 60 percent to 70 percent of profit for Apple comes from one product, the iPhone. And so clearly a major announcement, such as new carriers for the iPhone, or a lower-priced iPhone, could meaningfully turn the tide for Apple.”
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