Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White reiterated a Buy rating and a $777 price target on Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares in a research note obtained by Wall St. Cheat Sheet. The analyst cited preliminary data from the firm’s Apple Barometer that showed the company’s December sales were “stronger than typical seasonality.” The Apple Barometer is an index of Taiwan-based suppliers that provide components for the iPhone maker.
According to White, Apple’s sales in December saw an estimated 3 percent month-over-month decline. However, this is much better than an average decline of 10 percent seen over the past eight years.
Based on the preliminary Apple Barometer data, White predicted that Apple’s December quarter likely saw “the second-best sequential growth for a December quarter over the past nine years.” Per the analyst, fourth-quarter sales for the Apple Barometer saw a 31 percent quarter-over-quarter increase, well above the average increase of 13 percent over the past eight years.
White wrote that 2013 was a “tough” year for Apple. He estimated the company’s earnings per share fell by 9 percent in 2013, its first EPS growth decline in a decade. He also noted that the California-based company’s 5 percent stock price increase during 2013 “significantly underperformed” the 30 percent increase seen in the S&P 500 Index.
However, the Cantor Fitzgerald analyst forecasts good things for Apple in 2014. White believes Apple will expand its current product categories and enter new ones this year. White predicted that Apple would unveil up to three iPhone screen sizes as it enters the “mega-sized” smartphone market. The analyst also reiterated that Apple would finally unveil its long-rumored iWatch in 2014. Although White believes wearable tech will be a major trend at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, he told Bloomberg Radio last week that “it’s going to take Apple to make it cool.”
Finally, White pointed to Apple’s recent expansion in China’s smartphone market. Last month, Apple confirmed that it had finalized an iPhone distribution deal with China Mobile (NYSE:CHL), the world’s largest carrier with more than 763 million subscribers. White believes this partnership will “reignite sales growth in China.”
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