Another Wall Street analyst has jumped into the Apple bull camp—this time in a big way. FBR Capital Markets Managing Director Dan Ives initiated coverage of Apple with an "outperform" rating Thursday, but it's his high target price that makes the call stand out.
With a 12-month price target of $185, Ives now commands the distinction of having the highest target on the Street. His call also reflects a market cap of more than $1 trillion for what's already the world's most valuable company.
So what does Ives expect to push Apple to the $1 trillion mark within 12 months? He says it's a combination of factors that the Street has thus far underestimated.
On CNBC's "Fast Money" on Thursday, Ives identified Apple's software business, which includes features like Apple Pay, apps and streaming TV services, as the key to his bull thesis.
"I think really the golden jewel is on the software side," he said. "We believe that could add up to $2 in earnings by 2017. I believe this is really sort of the fuel in the engine for Apple."
Ives said the higher-margin software business will increasingly make up a larger piece of Apple's revenue. "The software services piece is 12 percent of gross (profit), based on our estimates. We believe that triples over the next two years."
Ives also pointed to wearables as a growth area for the company. "We view it as a $20 billion market," he said. "It's only an appetizer at the restaurant in terms of Apple Watch what we expect to see from them over the next one to two years."
Triogem Asset Management's Tim Seymour pushed back on the call, saying that while he likes Apple, he doesn't see Ives' growth drivers launching the stock above $180 anytime soon.
"I do believe those things are phenomenal value," Seymour said. "I do believe these are things that they are transitioning into, and they provide a buffer for the stock, they help sentiment. I just don't think that gets you to $180—and I love Apple."
Regarding those who say Apple's growth could be coming to a close, Ives said there's a longer game being played. "We still think it's the third or fourth inning of this playing out."