Tech Transformers

The next iPhone is the last hurrah for smartphones: Fund manager


The next Apple iPhone could signal the end for smartphones, as the market reaches a saturation point, according to an industry expert.

Ben Rogoff, fund manager at Polar Capital, argues that the smartphone story is coming to an end.

"The iPhone 8 or whatever it's going to be called will be the last hurrah for smartphones," he told CNBC's Squawk Box.

Why one analyst thinks that 'the smartphone story is coming to an end'

According to Rogoff, the market is saturated and there is now a focus on replacement, although innovation will still occur. He said the next innovation that could capture new market share are flexible screen devices.

"One thing that could change the conversation… is the flexible screen and putting that into a flexible device, where the screen opens up and your phone can become your tablet. Actually I think that offers more promise for reacceleration in the market," he said.

The next iPhone release will be critical for Apple, which has experienced three consecutive quarters of falling iPhone sales. Apple shares are currently trading around $140, but Rogoff warned that shares could fall if the next iPhone disappoints.

"If this new product upgrade turns out to be another iteration, and an underwhelming one, then I think the market will fall back on the fact that this is a saturated market. Apple will continue to take a disproportionate share of that market, but this growth is done, he said.

"I don't think that's a likely scenario but it is a scenario."

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Some investors may be concerned if there is any further upside to the Apple share price, which has risen around 33 percent in the past 12 months.

However, Steven Milunovich, a UBS analyst, forecasts Apple reaching a stock price of $175 in two to three years, and possibly $200 in some scenarios.

"In the most likely scenario, we see Apple maintaining a 14 times multiple, moving the stock up on rising earnings but at a slowing rate. The iPhone goes ex-growth, new products have moderate success, and margins are flattish," he wrote in a research note published Tuesday.

"For Apple to hit $200, iPhone needs to continue to grow beyond full year 18, new product categories must be established, and buybacks should exceed $50 billion per year, boosting the P/E to 17 times."

However, there is downside risk if the company fails to innovate and iPhone sales turn negative. In this scenario, Milunovich predicts the share price could fall to $125.