Needham

Needham's Charlie Wolf quits the Apple $700 club

August 12, 2013: 9:54 AM ET

The analyst with the Street's second highest Apple price target just lowered his to $595.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

FORTUNE -- In September 2012, when Apple (AAPL) was selling for over $700 a share, more than half the analysts we track had price targets in the $750 to $900 range.

By Friday, only two were still at $700 or higher, and on Monday, one of them -- Needham's Charlie Wolf -- lowered his Apple target from $700 to $595 (That left Topeka's Brian White all alone at $888, down from his all-time Street high of $1,111.)

Wolf is not your typical Apple analyst. Some of his colleagues change their price targets with every shift in the prevailing wind and never offer more than a sentence or two by way of explanation.

Not Charlie Wolf. He reviews his Apple price target only twice a year, in February and August, and if he changes it -- as he did on Monday to reflect what he calls a "more hostile competitive environment" -- he tells you exactly why. His chart-heavy note to clients Monday runs more than 4,380 words long and breaks down his valuation by product line (see his Figure 1 above).

The key bullet points: (I quote)

  • The largest percentage decline -- 42.3% -- was in the Mac segment as the negative impact of tablets on PC sales became increasingly apparent in the first half of the calendar year.
  • The iPad experienced the next largest decline -- 37.2% -- to reflect the decline in the average selling price of iPads as buyers shifted from the 10 inch to the lower margin 8-inch model.
  • The value of the iPhone declined 15.4%, reflecting a more competitive global environment. Expectations for the iPhone are in a sense binary. If Apple continues with a single high-end model, the iPhone's market share is likely to decline further. In the event that Apple introduces a less expensive and/or larger iPhone targeting emerging markets, the phone's share would likely increase. But a decline in the iPhone's gross margin that would accompany such a move could offset much of the growth in unit sales.
  •  iTunes, software and services and accessories experienced a nominal decline in value, reflecting a shift in the mix of revenues from high margin software to lower margin content and services.

Below: The analysts' individual price targets. Eleven months ago the median target was $770. Today it's $530.

Price targets 8:12
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