Katy Huberty: 'Apple is becoming a clean story again'October 18, 2013: 7:33 AM ET
Morgan Stanley's chief Apple watcher likes what she sees.
FORTUNE -- Three months ago, Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty predicted that Apple (AAPL) would sell 34.5 million iPhones in the quarter that ended Sept. 29. In the note she sent to clients Friday she stuck with that estimate -- even though she writes that demand last quarter was probably closer to 37 million.
Except for the "supply constraints" that she believes limited the number of new iPhones Apple shipped, Huberty likes almost everything the company did in its last fiscal quarter of 2013 -- a quarter she calls an "important inflection point."
Her Friday note begins:
"Apple is becoming a clean story again with upside to our estimates, signs of meaningful innovation in iOS 7 and 5s, strong positioning for the next computing cycle, and rebuilding of the management bench -- all signs of a positive trajectory in FY14. We are buyers into a strong Sep Q print."
She ends by listing four "catalysts" for the current quarter:
- (1) iPad 9.7" refresh, with less chance of a Mini refresh, on Oct 22 would give the product line a much needed boost after shipments fell Y/Y for the first time ever in the Jun Q.
- (2) Cheaper iPhones through a lower-capacity 5c or discounts likely in early 2013 (sic), which would be earnings accretive according to our analysis.
- (3) New services based on the fingerprint sensor, iCloud Keychain, and iBeacon would make the ecosystem even stickier and differentiated.
- (4) Potential additional supply chain data points that highlight upcoming innovation, like iWatch.
Huberty's "base case" price point is unchanged at $540, but in her "bull case" the stock might go as high as $686.