Expectations Send Apple Soaring

Even as Apple prepares to release its quarterly results tomorrow, investors with their eyes on the release of the iPhone 8 sometime this fall have sent its stock soaring.

“Another day, another analyst shouting BUY BUY BUY on Apple’s stock, based on the upcoming iPhone 8 launch,” observes Chris Mills on BGR. “This week, Credit Suisse analyst Kulbinder Garcha raised his estimate for the firm’s stock price to $170, based on his belief that ‘pent-up demand’ for a new iPhone will create a ‘supercycle’ of upgrades, sending Apple’s profits into the stratosphere and investors into a tizzy.”

The New York Times’ Vindu Goel reminds us “a year ago, many investors had given up on Apple, whose stock price had fallen more than 30% from its 2015 peak. Apple’s once-unstoppable growth had come to a crashing halt: The number of iPhones sold was down 13%, and the company posted its first revenue decline in 13 years.”



But AAPL closed at $143.65 Friday, up nearly 60% from May 2016. And that’s probably based more on expectations than performance unless tomorrow’s are a big surprise. 

“Everyone expects Apple to cure cancer with their next product launch,” Kevin Landis, CEO of Firsthand Funds, which sold its shares as Apple neared its bottom, but says he has no regrets about doing so. And if it can’t do that, well, they expect it to at least take better pictures. 

Leaks about the iPhone 8 have certainly sprung this spring. They include “vertical dual camera arrangement, home button removed, both the front-facing camera and Touch ID integrated under the main display, no return for the headphone jack and the introduction of wireless charging," writes  Forbes contributor Gordon Kelly, citing reports from “reliable veteran OnLeaks and prolific newcomer Benjamin Geskin).”

Meanwhile, BGR’s Zach Epstein reports on another leak that would seem to contradict earlier leaks that Apple was planning to put its fingerprint scanner on the back of the iPhone 8 — a design that “everyone hates.”

“Twitter user KK Sneak Leaks has several genuine leaks under his belt, and on Friday he posted a new photo of a third-party iPhone 8 case. As you can clearly see, there is no opening on this case for a rear-facing fingerprint reader.”

If the phone is on the front, however, it may mean that the 10th-anniversary product won't roll out until October or November instead of the usual September, analysts and journalists have been warning.

In any event, Wall Street is enamored.

“Here’s a prediction I’d thought I’d stash in a dark corner of my archive of 2015-era foolishness, which suddenly looks correct after all: Apple may still hit $1 trillion in stock-market value in 2017, and second-quarter earnings May 2 may make this even clearer,” writes Tim Mullaney for MarketWatch.

Yes, the upcoming release of the iPhone 8 —“with all those cool new features” — is one reason for the rebound. But so, too, are the fact that China has stabilized, iPhone sales have been “pretty good” even as people await the new model, and its cash pile is growing, Mullaney says.

In a story that also may — or may not — help to explain Apple’s soaring stock price, the Merriam-Webster dictionary “is using Apple fans to help define a derogatory term just added to the dictionary: ‘sheeple,’” reports CNET’s Chris Matyszczyk. “M-W first defines the word as ‘people who are docile, compliant, or easily influenced ... people likened to sheep,” he writes. “Then, it throws in the baa-humbug.”

It used a snippet from a 2015 review by CNN's Doug Criss to illustrate what is presumably the next step down from being a mere “fanboy”: “Apple debuted a battery case for the juice-sucking iPhone — an ungainly lumpy case the sheeple will happily shell out $99 for.”

There are, however, limits to just how far the base can be pushed. 

Early last month, some heavyweight tech journalists were “invited deep inside the guts of the Apple campus — right to the room where prototypes are machined into existence — for a sit-down with Apple bigwigs …,” as Jake Swearingen reports for New York. And “it did what it almost never does: It admitted its mistakes,” regarding its desktops computers — particularly the roundly booed Mac Pro.

With humility traditionally in short stock at Apple, that admission that’s it’s listening may prove to be another reason to go long on APPL.

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