5 reasons to buy Apple's stock now from Citi, including back-to-school demand and services growth

Key Points
  • Citigroup analyst Jim Suva reiterates his buy rating and $200 price target, advising clients to purchase the stock ahead of the back-to-school season.
  • He details five key reasons investors should be buying shares of the iPhone maker.
Apple CEO Tim Cook (L) takes a picture with David Casarez (R) who just purchased the new iPhone X at an Apple Store on November 3, 2017 in Palo Alto, California.
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

Despite Apple’s recent underperformance on Wall Street, one analyst believes there are no less than five reasons why investors should buy shares of the iPhone maker.

Highlighting the company’s 2018 product lineup as well as healthy services revenue, Citigroup analyst Jim Suva told clients that news of sluggish demand should subside throughout the summer months.

Demand “is estimated to pick up during back to school/holiday quarter and production cuts typically precede new model launches in the fall,” Suva wrote Monday. “We remain positive on growth opportunities via Applewood (growth in Services coupled with emerging market growth especially in India). Apple shares remain attractively valued.”

The analyst reiterated his buy rating on shares of the Cupertino, California-based company as well as his $200 price target, implying 8 percent upside over the next year. Apple’s stock is down 2.7 percent over the past month, underperforming the S&P 500, but up more than 9 percent since January.

Here are Suva’s five reasons to buy Apple stock right now.

1) Promising 2018 product lineup

"While iPhone X demand expectations have been tempered, we believe 2H18 lineup could spur demand given the differentiation in the higher end OLED models versus the LCD models and consumers becoming accustomed to paying a premium price for smartphones which are essential to daily life. We are not expecting a Super Cycle but we do believe sustainable single-digit unit growth of iPhone is achievable."

2) Capital returns

"An incremental $100 billion share repurchases program compares to Apple's current buyback plan of $210 billion and average buybacks of $32 billion/year over the past five years. Assuming Apple executes this over a two year period, this would essentially remove an incremental 550 million shares over the two-year period (or 250 million shares per year), resulting in an approximate 12 percent share reduction over the next two years."

That capital return, Suva notes, could drive 10 percent earnings per share accretion.

3) Rising service revenue, AppleCare+, Apple Music and App Store Growth

"Apple Services in total represent about 15 percent of total company sales and is the second largest contributor to margin dollars ... We note Apple's internal goal is to double Service revenues from fiscal year 2016 to fiscal year 2020 seems reasonable."
"Underpinning Service growth projections is the growth in paid subscriptions (Apple Music, iCloud, paid subscription content such as games, videos, magazines/newspapers, AppleCare+, etc.) which we believe is approaching close to 270 million. This compares with Apple's disclosed active installed base of 1.3 billion devices."

4) Enterprise push midterm and Applewood (aka India and emerging markets)

"Enterprise remains an area of opportunity for Apple. More recently at IBM Think 2018, Apple and IBM revealed an enhancement to their existing collaboration with Watson Services for Core ML and the newly designed IBM Cloud Developer Console for Apple. The offering combined Apple’s Core ML tools for developers with IBM’s Watson to make it easier for companies to add artificial intelligence into mobile applications."
"We view Applewood is an opportunity to drive both sales and EPS growth. This is important as many believe Apple has saturated its addressable market especially considering it's a premium product company that everyone cannot afford."

5) Attractive valuation relative to prior cycles

"On a price to earnings basis, Apple shares trade at 0.9x PE relative to the S&P 500. This compares with a low of 0.6x (during the past four years) and as high as 0.95x. Excluding their net cash per share which is about 20 percent of their current market cap, current relative multiples are hovering around ~0.8x. As Service revenues accelerate and total addressable market expansion in India and China returns to growth, we could see some acceleration in relative PE multiples."