Given the rumors and high expectations, Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster fears the World Wide Developers Conference that Apple (AAPL) is hosting next week in San Francisco could be a “slight disappointment” to investors.
Right, because the stock price is so closely related to the company’s products, sales, and profit.
Apple is widely expected to unveil a new iPhone next week. Munster is cautious. “Regardless of whether or not new iPhones are announced at WWDC,” he writes, “we continue to expect a mid-July launch of a family of iPhones.”
It’s a disappointment that Apple is likely to do the same thing they did last year, announcing and unveiling the new iPhone at WWDC with an availability date a few weeks later?
Many investors are looking for Apple to announce a $99 iPhone and a cheaper data plan. Munster thinks $149 is a more likely price point and puts the chances of AT&T (T) offering reduced data fees at about 25%.
You can “look” for Apple to offer a $1 iPhone, but it’s just not realistic. You can’t just pull prices out of the air and expect them to be profitable and worthwhile for the vendors. Smartphones have significant per-unit costs and are already highly subsidized.
Cheaper entry prices would be nice, but I won’t be disappointed if they don’t happen.
The price of the data plan is entirely AT&T’s call, not Apple’s, and it’s already reasonably priced.
As for Steve Jobs, Munster is neither a pessimist nor an optimist. He doesn’t believe Apple’s CEO will take the stage on Monday, but he has faith that Jobs will return from his medical leave, as promised, before the end of June.
Apple has already publicly stated that the keynote speaker will be Phil Schiller and that Steve Jobs will return by the end of June. So Gene Munster believes that two of Apple’s recent official statements, both realistic and sensical, are true.
This is why Piper Jaffray analysts get paid the big bucks, I guess.
And as for OS X Snow Leopard, billed as one of the highlights of this year’s WWDC (along with the iPhone 3.0 software), Munster worries that the “near-final release” will have “limited wow-factor” and that the demo “may be disappointing.”
An OS release that Apple has promised as an under-the-hood release without major new features may have “limited wow-factor” in demos.
This, of course, would only be disappointing for people who haven’t yet paid any attention at all to Snow Leopard.
In a separate note, Oppenheimer’s Yair Reiner writes that he expects Apple to delay the announcement of new iPhones for a few weeks to work through channel inventory of old phones and to avoid “diluting” next week’s focus on Snow Leopard and iPhone 3.0.
Finally, a ballsy prediction, although not from our friend Gene.
It’s an interesting idea, but it’s highly unlikely that Apple would announce new iPhones very close to WWDC and not just do it at WWDC. Plus, imagine the fallout if the WWDC keynote came and went without an iPhone hardware announcement that’s already backed up by substantial rumors and scraps of likely evidence.
Munster is sticking with his price target of $180 a share. Reiner has raised his to $160 from $140.
Given that APPL’s trading today at $143, and it was at $180 as recently as last August (right before the entire market sunk), Munster might be taking a slight risk here, but maybe I was wrong about the balls level of Reiner.
I love tech analysts. They’re an entire industry of bullshitting backed by observational selection and massive payola.