Monday, April 25, 2022

Fiscal 2Q 2022 Final Estimates

As of today's current price of $161.57, AAPL trades at a 23.0x multiple on my NTM EPS estimate (22.4x when excluding NTM net cash and dividends).

The main question for investors is to what extent do the various current global issues (war, pandemic, new lockdowns, supply chain issues, rising cost of capital, inflation, recession, consumers subscription fatigue, regulation, labor activism... did I miss any?) translate into a longer-term headwind on growth beyond the current year or so. It's anyone's guess, so I'll just share my impressions without much justification (you should research those issues and derive your own conclusions). I do not see a long-term effect on demand, but I do believe management must be asking themselves a big, structural question around manufacturing diversification involving a relatively modest but potentially longer-term impact on current cost structures.

This question is far from exclusive to Apple, impacting the whole electronics industry. The good thing is Apple uniquely has a hefty gross margin cushion from a rising Services mix which allows it to execute almost any product manufacturing transition they may decide to take on with minimal impact on overall profitability. That doesn't mean it would be an easy decision to make, nor easy to execute. It's possible they've already set sail on this course. In any case, don't expect any visibly drastic changes in financial performance, nor dramatic measures or decisions announced. It's a long journey, and the destination isn't necessarily 180 degrees from the current situation. So I've modeled around 1% headwind on the long-term (beyond the next 3-5y) growth projection now at high single-digits, and a bit larger short-term impact over the next quarter or two. I'll leave it at that.

This is the time Apple always updates their Capital Return Program. A brief review of what it's done so far: $484 billion spent to retire 11.4 billion shares at an average cost of $42.59 per share, so almost quadrupled that investment. I expect at least another $25b spent during last quarter, leaving about $15b authorized for buybacks. So, given current $80b in net cash and projected near $110b in FCF over NTM, I think the authorization should be extended by over $120b more until next year, and the quarterly dividend raised by 13.6% to 25 cents per share from the current 22 cents. However, I wouldn't be surprised if management feels no need to be as aggressive (so as not to tip their hand so much) and instead decide on $100b extra for buybacks and 24 cents for the dividend (+9%).

As I promised last time, I'm bumping the long-term valuation multiple to 24x, and plan to take it to 25x for the December quarter preview at the earliest, depending on financial results through the rest of the Fiscal Year, and what's announced in the Summer and Fall events.

Detailed estimates:

3mo ending Mar22  Rev$B   GM%  $EPS
----------------  -----  ----  ----
Analysts consens   94.0     -  1.43
My estimates       96.8  43.5  1.51 (16.42b shares)

Monday, January 24, 2022

Fiscal 1Q 2022 Final Estimates

As of today's current price of $156.05, AAPL trades at a 23.4x multiple on my NTM EPS estimate (22.7x when excluding NTM net cash and dividends).

Consensus growth estimates for FY22 have improved slightly, but still remain well below my estimates. I'm at +11/15% while consensus is 4.5/2.4% rev/EPS growth for the Fiscal Year. The fact that consensus EPS growth is slower than revenue growth proves those are flawed estimates not reflecting the significant leverage from rising gross margins and about 3% lower share count.

Given the market's recent nervousness as well as last report's inline results, I've decided to leave the long-term target valuation multiple at 23x for now. If my March quarter estimates align with whatever guidance clues are provided, then I most likely will raise the multiple to 24x next time, with still one more nudge to 25x hopefully later this year. I'll leave the discussion of potentially huge upside from new product categories to other analysts, but the effect on financials will be gradual over the next 3-5 years, and not felt this year at all. However, investors should anticipate such effects and most likely bring back the trailing multiple up above 30with the stock breaking $200 well ahead of any announcement.

Detailed estimates:

3mo ending Dec21  Rev$B   GM%  $EPS
----------------  -----  ----  ----
Analysts consens  118.4     -  1.89
My estimates      121.3  42.2  1.98 (16.54b shares)

Monday, October 25, 2021

Fiscal 4Q 2021 Final Estimates

As of Friday's close of $148.69, AAPL trades at a 23.2x multiple on my NTM EPS estimate (22.6x when excluding NTM net cash and dividends).

Market continues to ignore past scorching growth performance in fear of having seen demand pull-forward so subsequent stagnation or declines must be right around the corner. A slowdown from last year's growth is inevitable, but far from stagnation given the still incipient adoption of the latest drivers (5G, Apple Silicon, new Services) by the billion-plus user base.

Persistent industry-wide component shortages potentially stretching into next year suggests demand remains strong, but somehow still provides yet another "flawless flawgic" catch-22 for naysayers: either demand evaporates as people already got their tech fix, or will be strong but can't meet it due to shortages. This in tandem with the tired threat of regulation punishing any and all success, or the inane taper tantrums as if negative real rates provided an attractive incentive for traders hooked on growth, gives smart and patient investors a great opportunity (wait, no, not crypto).

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Fiscal 3Q 2021 Final Estimates

As of yesterday's close of $146.39, AAPL trades at a 25.1x multiple on my NTM EPS estimate (24.5x when excluding NTM net cash and dividends).

As the scorching growth period due to last year's covid closures-impacted compares and subsequent extraordinary shifts in technology needs starts subsiding over the current and next couple of quarters, and given the past several months to almost a year of the stock stagnating, the market is likely ready to reassess Apple's future growth expectations and assign a corresponding valuation multiple that reflects this growth potential.

I believe a long-term base case of 10% EPS growth is sustainable for at least 3-5 years after my mid-term 2-3y more brisk projection detailed below (which stands in contrast to most analysts turning skeptical on much growth or even expecting declines for the next couple of years or so), driven by mid-high single-digits revenue growth compounded with continued pace of buybacks around $100b per year (and likely increasing after 2026).

Confirmation of the sustainability of growth through new product announcements as well as already announced and visible roadmap resiliency (5G, Silicon, Services adoption) over the next year should easily justify a 25x multiple on forward-looking earnings, so the valuation projection shown at a 22x multiple still has room for upside revisions.

Detailed estimates:

3mo ending Jun21  Rev$B   GM%  $EPS
----------------  -----  ----  ----
Analysts consens   72.9     -  1.00
My estimates       74.2  42.1  1.03 (16.78b shares)

Friday, April 23, 2021

Fiscal 2Q 2021 Final Estimates

As of yesterday's close of $131.94, AAPL trades at a 26.6x multiple on my NTM EPS estimate (25.8x when excluding NTM net cash and dividends).

For the annual update on the capital return program, I expect the quarterly dividend will go to 23¢ from 20.5¢ (+12.2%) and $135b added to the roughly $10b remaining by now in the share repurchase authorization ($32b remained by Dec) providing a comfortable cushion to sustain $85-95b annual pace of buybacks.

Last quarter's revenue/EPS growth of 34/64% is absolutely dumbfounding (and obviously not sustainable) for this size of a business, an outlier resulting from last year's impact on production (and demand to a lesser extent) from the pandemic closures. Mid-term (2-3y) revenue growth should decelerate to still remarkably strong low-teens thanks to WFH, homegrown silicon transition, and 5G adoption, leveraged through buybacks to achieve high-teens EPS growth. Longer-term (>3y) revenue growth of high single-digits combined with continued strong buyback pace yields sustainable double-digit EPS growth.

On valuation, I'm sticking with a 22x long-term multiple target for now (trailing lags at 16x but fast catching up by a point per quarter), at least until outlier results of this quarter (and perhaps FY) are behind us, as that's when we'll get better validation of the sustainable long-term growth potential that I'm currently projecting.

Detailed estimates:

3mo ending Mar21  Rev$B   GM%  $EPS
----------------  -----  ----  ----
Analysts consens   77.1     -  0.98
My estimates       78.2  40.8  1.05 (16.92b shares)