Apple: Can Low Expectations Be a Good Thing?

With Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) preparing for the launch of new products and services, it would only be “prudent” to temper expectations from the company for the first half of the year, Barclays Capital Ben Reitzes has said. Consequently, Reitzes cut his price target on the stock to $740 from $800, though he reiterated an Overweight rating.

According to the analyst, Apple was now in a “rare” position where lowered expectations were now underestimating its growth potential.

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“We believe that Apple is in a rare situation in calendar year 2013,” Reitzes said, according to Barron’s. “Expectations are actually low and getting lower. We believe that many investors fear iPhone sales will be relatively flat this year and that there will be no move into TV that moves the needle. Consensus estimates have moved down steadily in recent months — and we believe that the buy-side is finally in equilibrium with the average sell-side figures in aggregate.”

According to the analyst, success in cloud-computing services and the mobile payments business will be more critical than hardware for Apple this year. In addition, the year was important also in the company’s rivalries against Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) when it came to mobile platform and maps apps, and Samsung (SSNLF.PK) in case of hardware.

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“The critical thing this year for Apple is to establish itself further in web services — by weaving more features into iOS 7,” he wrote. “We believe that web services are the next real battleground for Apple and the key for shareholder confidence. The maps debacle showed investors how valuable’s Google technology was … and how Apple may struggle as the world moves beyond iTunes toward cloud-based services.”

But Reitzes expressed confidence in Apple’s ability to eventually “turn the tide” with a move into “payments, an integrated iOS-led television service, and improvements to iCloud (including subscription-based services).”

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