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Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock finished the last full week of May with a 7% gain. That still leaves AAPL stock down 15.3% in 2022. And as I prepare this article, it’s too early to tell whether the market rally signals the start of a real recover or just a temporary bump before stocks fall even further.
That uncertainty is weighing on all tech stocks as many analysts think that the valuations of these companies remain bloated. And when Apple enters that conversation, the bearish argument moves to supply chains and lockdowns in China.
In this article, we’ll look at both sides of the great Apple debate and give you a thought about how to approach an investment in AAPL stock.
Has iPhone Production Peaked?
There are many bearish arguments against Apple. Some of the most concerning to me are those that point out potential ethical violations. However, the one that gets to the heart of it affects the company’s iconic iPhone. Specifically, Apple announced this week that it plans to keep production of the iPhone at around 220 million in 2022. That’s approximately the same number as last year and 20 million less than analysts are expecting.
On the one hand, this is a reasonable forecast. The company is beset by supply chain difficulties that are tied to the aggressive measures that China is taking to arrest the spread of Covid-19.
Still, iPhone sales are a headline number every time Apple delivers an earnings report. Also consider that many retailers still have limited supplies of the iPhone 13. While saying Apple customers are loyal is an understatement, it’s worth wondering if this loyalty has limits, particularly as many consumers may be looking to buy iPhones before interest rates move higher.
Apple Has Proven Skeptics Wrong Before
A bearish argument that I see as a bullish argument is that Apple is pivoting to growth from its Services sector. For full disclosure, I own some AAPL stock. However, it was only after the company began to see growth in other areas. Don’t get me wrong. If you’re going to be good at one thing, the iPhone is a great thing to be great at.
But by itself, that concerned me. Now Apple has its Services, AppleTV and is now perhaps on the road to an autonomous vehicle. What this says to me is that Apple is becoming a stock that you have to look at for the sum of its parts. When you do, it puts more context on revenue that was up 9% year-over-year (YOY) in its last quarter. It also provides confidence that the company will continue to generate free cash flow that it can return to shareholders.
AAPL Stock Remains a Long-Term Buy
It’s possible that AAPL stock has further to drop in 2022, but there may be indications that the worst may soon be over. I say this based on commentary that suggests the Federal Reserve can’t (not won’t) raise interest rates much after it finishes the 50-basis point increases it has targeted for June and July.
And since markets are forward looking, it may be that investors will start to revisit the tech sector. And while that may not lead analysts to raise their price targets for AAPL stock, just keeping them where they are would keep the mean forecast at a gain of around 30%.
But none of that really matters to the long-term investor. I believe those investors will need to see a deterioration not only in the amount of revenue, but in the avenues available to generate that revenue. Since I believe both of those work in the company’s favor, I still believe Apple is a solid long-term buy.
On the date of publication, Chris Markoch had a long position in AAPL. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
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