Morgan Stanley Upgrades Apple to King of Mobile Internet
Apple has $29 billion in cash, no debt, a 36 percent gross margin, and it’s on the cusp of another iPhone ugrade cycle. Little wonder, then, that analysts are raising their target prices on the company’s stock.
Among those doing so today: Morgan Stanley’s Kathryn Huberty, who lifted hers to $180 from $105, arguing that iPhone demand through 2010 is being underestimated by the market and will help drive Apple’s stock value up. “We believe Apple is emerging as the clear leader in the battle over the mobile Internet,” Huberty wrote in a research note to clients, adding that some future pricing adjustments will only solidify that position. “We expect a price cut to the current generation iPhone to drive 50 percent to 100 percent (two million to four million units) incremental unit demand,” she said. “Our survey data suggests 15 percent plus of the iPhone installed base typically upgrade to a new phone.”
A bullish call, especially for Huberty, whose opinion of Apple has historically been mercurial at best. Shares of Apple (AAPL) rose five percent to $128.60 in early trading this morning.
Tempering Huberty’s exuberant pronouncements today is Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdhry, who tells Reuters that the iPhone will suffer a bit at the hands of the Palm (PALM) Pre, which is scheduled to arrive at market on June 6. “Investors should not think the upcoming version of iPhone 3 is going to be as successful as iPhone 2.0 because it will have solid competition from Palm Pre, developed by ex-Apple designer Jon Rubinstein,” Chowdhry said. “Palm Pre has a superior operating system than iPhone. It runs on a better network–Sprint CDMA-versus iPhone which runs on GSM.”