Initial analyst reactions to Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ WWDC 2007 keynote speech are rolling in, and while some articulate disappointment in the short term, their Apple target prices remain strong.
Strategy call: Safari for Windows
Perhaps most disappointed is American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu, who called the keynote “somewhat underwhelming,”. Wu waxed cautious warning, “at the same time I believe Jobs made key announcements in advancing Apple’s platforms.”
Despite his disappointment, Wu chose to maintain his buy rating on the stock, citing a $145 target price. He praised certain keynote announcements, including the unified user interface and introduction of Cover Flow navigation, though he called Apple’s move to permit web-based iPhone app development, “a compromise”.
Wu calls the introduction of Safari for Windows, “a strategic and smart move to give Windows users a closer taste of the Mac experience, that should ultimately attract more switchers.”
Mac to become games platform
Finally, the analyst noted a push for the development of the Mac as a games platform with an announced link-up with Electronic Arts and id Software. “We find this development significant as the world’s largest game developer is once again committing to the Mac platform. We believe other game developers could follow,” he said.
UBS Investment analyst, Ben Reitzes also noted this, saying: “Apple currently is far behind Windows in terms of gaming capabilities. Now that Apple is using Intel processors and gaining share, it seems that this gap is set to narrow a little bit.”
Leopard to sell faster than Tiger
On strength of WWDC, Mac sales seem set to take a boost, according to Reitzes. He upped his Apple stock target price to a generous $160 per share, predicting that Leopard’s launch would generate over 50 per cent growth in the company’s software segment, year-on-year. He anticipates Leopard adoption will proceed at a faster rate than that of Mac OS X 10.4 ‘Tiger’.
Also on the Mac, Morningstar analyst Rod Bare forecast that Apple’s Mac sales would average 20 per cent growth per year for the next five years.
In a short note to clients, Jonathan Hoopes at ThinkEquity Partners chose to maintain his $130 target price on Apple stock, but downgraded his rating to “Accumulate”.
He also noted the Safari connection: “With Safari available on Windows PCs, the rest of the world has opportunity to experience more Apple goodness,” he said. “This move should sustain, if not accelerate (albeit longer term), Apple’s Mac share gains which has been the primary premise for our positive investment thesis for Apple shares,” he added.
iPhone in focuse
On iPhone, he observed: “Apple’s opening the iPhone Safari browser platform to third-party developers should further energize the Mac developer ecosystem and should boost iPhone’s competitiveness.”
Reitzes also predicts new iPods this autumn, and stressed the importance of the release of Safari for Windows.
Analysts at Morningstar, Caris & Co. and Piper Jaffray also anticipate Apple will sell in excess of 15 million (and perhaps as many as 26 million) iPhones next year.
Analysts at Caris & Company raised their Apple target price from $115 to $140 on strength of their analysis, whiile the analysts at JMP Securities raised their Apple target price from $112 to $125.
No leaking from the top
Blackfriars Communications analyst Carl Howe thinks Apple may be playing with public perception. He believes that the news Apple didn’t share at WWDC is perhaps equally important to what it did.
Howe anticipates that Apple will confirm new and hitherto undisclosed features in OS X 10.5 before it ships in October, speculating that announcements regarding such features are being held back until closer to the actual shipping date. This could explain why developers continue to be tied to a strict non-disclosure agreement (NDA) as they pick up their copies of the OS at WWDC.