Apple's doing well — here's how it could do even better

Morris Mark: Apple's doing fine but it can do better

Apple is already doing better than Wall Street expected — and the possibility for more economic growth could drive it even higher, analysts told CNBC on Wednesday.

The potential for President Donald Trump to enact tax reform, including the chance to bring back overseas cash at a lower tax rate, could provide as much as 10 percent upside to earnings for Apple, said Jim Suva, director and senior analyst at Citigroup.

Customers take a selfie as they enter the first Apple Store in Mexico City, Mexico.
Ginnette Riquelme | Reuters

Another analyst, Morris Mark, founder of Mark Asset Management, also sees more potential for Apple "to do so much better."

"The economy is doing well, but it obviously has the potential to do much better," Mark told CNBC's "Squawk Alley" on Wednesday. "If we get intelligent [tax] reform, then the economy's pace will pick up, and that's a win-win."

Apple shares climbed 6.7 percent on Wednesday to their highest level in a year and a half, on the back of a better-than-expected earnings report.

Apple also reported a record $246.09 billion in cash during the December quarter, up $8.49 billion from the previous quarter. Most of that cash is held overseas for tax reasons, but President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans might change the tax code to let Apple bring that money back into the U.S. with less of a tax hit, paving the way for more domestic acquisitions.

When asked about repatriation on the earnings conference call, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that iPhone maker is "always looking at acquisitions" and that it has acquired 15 to 20 companies each year for the past four years. "There's not a size that [Apple] would not do," he added.

"It's a fantastic problem that Apple has — of too much cash," Suva said on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street."

Sales of its new iPhones — promoted heavily by U.S. telecom carriers — and especially the high prices of the iPhone 7 Plus helped Apple boost its revenue. JPMorgan noted in a research note that Apple managed to maintain resilient demand despite "tougher than expected consumer backdrop."

"People are paying up for these premium devices," Suva said.

Citi increased its target price on Apple on Wednesday, noting the long term potential of its push into India and its software ambitions.

"To me, the real question in regard to Apple is how they strengthen their ecosystem," Mark said. "When you got the first iPhone, if you had iTunes, that was the only place that you could listen to it on a mobile [smartphone] device. Now you want greater content that's proprietary the same way. That's where Apple should be pointing and I thought that Tim Cook alluded to that in the call."

Disclosure: Citi owns a more than 1 percent stake in Apple shares, and Apple is a Citi investment banking client.