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)

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Fiscal 1Q 2021 Final Estimates

As of today's close of $136.87, AAPL is trading at a 30.2x multiple on my NTM EPS estimate (29.4x when excluding NTM net cash and dividends).

I've extended the model projection a few more years into the future, and what came out is rather remarkable, though not surprising: a new virtuous cycle of self-reinforcing growth has ensued for Apple. Starting NTM due to easy iPhone comps and resilient "work/learn from home" trends, followed over next 2-3 years by 5G and Apple Silicon adoption, further compounding even longer term into all lines due to ecosystem synergies (my so called "loopy" modeling). And all that is even before considering potentially huge initiatives in new devices such as tags and glasses, or new services tackling transportation and health.

Bear in mind I could be wrong, overly optimistic about iPhone in particular, which if instead stagnates or keeps declining from here, as it has the last 5y amid declining smartphone and PC markets (yet there was a pandemic last year and tariff wars the prior two), it would likely throw a wrench in the cycle's gears. However, I sense the next 5 years won't be as tough as the last. Granted there might be increased regulation, government intervention, and higher taxes, but I think none of it will amount to much in the end. So, on with my rosy picture.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Fiscal 4Q 2020 Final Estimates

As of Friday's close of $115.04, AAPL is trading at a 27.5x multiple on my FY21 EPS estimate (26.6x when excluding NTM net cash and dividends).

I expect record-strong Dec quarter guidance should offset any perceived weakness from roughly inline Sep results due to est. ~$6b iPhone and ~$1b AppleCare revenue push-back (as hinted in last call but perhaps not fully digested by analysts/investors). This offset gets picked up mostly in current 1Q but some also in 2Q ending in March due to late Oct/early Nov launch setting up an unusual 2Q as first full quarter of sales this cycle, a privilege normally reserved for the December quarter.

All product line projections revised upwards over NTM, particularly Mac and iPad which in turn feed back to boost mid/long-term growth for all other revenue segments thanks to my loopy modeling of installed base/ecosystem interdependencies. Modeling very strong NTM iPhone growth due to easy comps, with continued strength over next 2-3 years given 5G rollout spread over several cycles.

Beyond that it's anyone's guess but tentatively allowing for sustainable, long-term growth of high single-digits in revenue and low double-digits in EPS (was mid/high single digits). This boost would then generate enough cashflow to maintain recent ~$75b strong pace of buybacks even after "net cash neutral" goal is met in a few years, yet the higher projected stock price prevents a similar EPS leverage benefit as in recent years at half-price discounts.

As for valuation, such a level of growth if truly sustained long-term (5y) would likely justify further expansion beyond my admittedly conservative 20x multiple, but I've chosen not to bake this in just yet, at least until the more ambitious growth trajectory gets validated over the year or so after the exceptionally scorching March outlier is behind us.

Detailed estimates:

3mo ending Sep20  Rev$B   GM%  $EPS
----------------  -----  ----  ----
Analysts consens   64.2     -  0.71
My estimates       64.8  37.9  0.73 (17.2b shares)

Friday, July 24, 2020

Fiscal 3Q 2020 Should Be Last Without My Detailed Guesses

At the current price of $369.77, AAPL is trading at a 24.1x multiple on my FY21 EPS estimate (23.1x when excluding FY21 net cash and dividends).

Once again I don't feel comfortable publishing my detailed guesses for last quarter's numbers and product revenue breakdown. Hopefully I'll be able to share these details for the next report, as I expect Apple to resume providing quarterly guidance next week.

On valuation, I've extended the projected multiple expansion, now going to 20x (was 18x) over the next 2-3 years. The significant increase in buybacks since 2018 is one of the most important (though seldom discussed) drivers of the valuation expansion. However, after the next couple of years the cash balance will reach within $50b of the stated goal of being "net cash neutral over time" which means the buyback pace will need to slow down a bit to remain sustainable, due to cash flows slightly restrained by potentially higher taxes and some additional tax liabilities coming due in 2023-26.

The only way to maintain the current buyback pace would be through significantly faster growth of cash from operations than I'm currently projecting for the next few years. Additionally, given the current stock price, buybacks can no longer achieve the same hugely impactful leverage effect as when the stock was significantly undervalued, often at half-priced discounts. So a multiple stabilizing around 20x for the foreseeable future seems appropriate for free cash flow growth slowing into the mid-single-digits after the next 2-3 years.

Here's just a few specific estimates I can share:

3mo ending Jun20  Rev$B   GM%  $EPS
----------------  -----  ----  ----
Analysts consens   51.8     -  2.03
My estimates          -  38.7     - (4.34b shares)