Apple firmly on course for $1 trillion valuation, say analysts

Chase Thilleman receives a high five from an Apple employee as he is first in line to buy the Apple iPhone X at the new Apple Michigan Avenue store along the Chicago River on Friday, Nov. 3, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Updated 03 November 2017
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Apple firmly on course for $1 trillion valuation, say analysts

Apple Inc.’s shares hit a record-high on Friday after the tech giant reported a blowout fourth quarter and shrugged off concerns related to the iPhone X, prompting more analysts to put a trillion-dollar valuation on the company.
The stock rose as much as 3.7 percent to $174.26, briefly breaching $900 billion in market value, amid declines in the broader market. The gains added nearly $32 billion to the company’s market capitalization.
The Cupertino, California-based company also forecast a strong holiday quarter ahead, which will include the iPhone X that started selling on Nov. 3.
“We see iPhone X unlocking pent-up iPhone upgrades, especially in China, driving more than 20 percent iPhone unit growth and a revenue and earnings beat in 2018,” analyst Katy Huberty on Morgan Stanley said.
The glass-and-steel $999 phone appeared to have brought back the frenzy associated with iPhone launches — long lines formed outside Apple stores in Asia as fans flocked to buy the new phone.
The company will make 30 million iPhone X units during the current quarter, Nomura Instinet analysts estimated, allaying production worries related to the phone.
Apple said on Thursday it expects first-quarter revenue of $84 billion to $87 billion, at the high end of analysts average expectations of $84.18 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
“We – and many others – had feared that guidance could be weaker, reflecting only 9 weeks of the flagship iPhone X and limitations on supply,” Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi said.
At least 13 brokerages raised their price targets on the stock, with Citigroup making the most bullish move by raising its price target by $30 to $200.
Of the 37 analysts that track the stock, as per Thomson Reuters data, 31 had a “buy,” or higher rating. None had a “sell.”
With the latest brokerage actions, at least nine Wall Street analysts now have target prices that puts Apple’s market value above $1 trillion. Drexel Hamilton’s Brian White is still the most bullish among Apple analysts tracked by Thomson Reuters, raising his target price further to $235.
Apple’s fourth-quarter results underscored the company’s ability to drive growth not just on iPhones, but across its range of products, analysts said.
The company’s suite now includes five different iPhone models, the iPad, the Mac and the Apple Watch as well as its fast-growing services.
Apple said it sold 46.7 million iPhones in the fourth quarter ended Sept. 30, above analysts’ estimates of 46.4 million, according to financial data and analytics firm FactSet. Mac and iPad sales too were above the estimates of most analysts.


Brent oil trades near 4-year high, but US crude retreats

Updated 26 September 2018
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Brent oil trades near 4-year high, but US crude retreats

  • The US will apply sanctions to halt oil exports from Iran, the third-largest OPEC producer, starting on November 4
  • Brent is on course for its fifth consecutive quarterly increase, the longest such stretch for the global benchmark since early 2007

TOKYO: Brent crude was trading around its highest in nearly four years on Wednesday, while US crude futures fell as Washington tried to assure consumers that the market would be well supplied before sanctions are re-imposed on producer Iran.
Brent crude futures were up 10 cents, or 0.1 percent, at $81.87 a barrel by 0645 GMT, after gaining nearly 1 percent the previous session. Brent rose on Tuesday to its highest since November 2014 at $82.55 per barrel.
US crude futures were down 4 cents at $72.24 a barrel. They climbed 0.3 percent on Tuesday to close at their highest level since July 11.
The US will apply sanctions to halt oil exports from Iran, the third-largest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), starting on November 4. The pending loss of Iranian supply has been a major factor in the recent surge in crude prices.
US officials, including President Donald Trump, are trying to assure consumers and investors that enough supply will remain in the oil market while requesting producers raise their output.
“We will ensure prior to the re-imposition of our sanctions that we have a well-supplied oil market,” Washington’s special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, told a news conference at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday evening.
In an earlier speech at the UN, Trump reiterated calls on OPEC to pump more oil and stop raising prices. He also accused Iran of sowing chaos and promised further sanctions on the country.
The so-called ‘OPEC+’ group, which includes the world’s biggest producer Russia, met over the weekend but did not see the need to add new output as the market is well-supplied currently.
“The lack of new production growth guidance by OPEC does not reflect a desire to let prices appreciate meaningfully further, but rather the historical pattern of OPEC responding to rather than front-running production losses,” Goldman Sachs said in a report.
“We continue to expect that the decline in Iran exports will reach 1.4 million barrels per day, and while it is occurring faster than we had previously expected, we continue to expect it to remain offset by a faster ramp-up in production from other producers.”
The investment bank reiterated its view that “Brent prices will stabilize back in their $70-80/bbl range into year-end.”
Brent is on course for its fifth consecutive quarterly increase, the longest such stretch for the global benchmark since early 2007, when a six-quarter run led to a record-high of $147.50 a barrel.
Meanwhile, in the US, the world’s biggest oil user, an industry report on Tuesday showed crude stockpiles unexpectedly climbed last week.
Crude inventories rose by 2.9 million barrels in the week to Sept. 21 to 400 million, compared with analyst expectations for a decrease of 1.3 million barrels, the American Petroleum Institute said.
Official figures on stockpiles and refinery runs from the US Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration are due at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT) on Wednesday.