If you’re Apple (AAPL), it pays to have gobs of cash and a gazillion plugged in sell-side analysts obsessively covering your stock. That’s especially so right now amidst a global health pandemic that has crushed the global economy and has made buying a new $1,000-plus iPhone sometime this year seem silly (if not financially impossible for many).
Shares of the tech behemoth barely budged on Monday following a story in the Wall Street Journal that Apple would push back the production of its latest iPhones by roughly a month. Apple typically releases several new handsets in the fall just before the holiday shopping season.
The company is reportedly working on four new iPhones for release this year, some with 5G capability.
Two Apple spokesmen didn’t return Yahoo Finance’s request for comment on the WSJ report.
At first blush, one would think news of a delay of any kind for fresh iPhones would be negative to Apple’s stock price. Not necessarily for a few reasons, strategists say.
First, a delay in the production ramp has been discussed at length on Wall Street and factored into a good chunk of profit estimates on Apple and the stock. Apple shares are down about 4% year-to-date, lagging the gains in other Big Cap tech stocks such as Microsoft (+10%), Amazon (+30%) and Netflix (+30%).
“This is right in line with our and many Street expectations with 5G slated to hit in late November/early December pre holidays,” says Wedbush tech analyst Dan Ives.
More important is that Apple is still — apparently — planning to have its new iPhones in the market before the critical holiday shopping season. By then, many would agree the U.S. economy will be in far better shape than it is today and interest in buying a new iPhone higher.
“This is something that was expected. The going thought is we push it forward or back a little bit [iPhone production]. That still gives people enough time to purchase devices for the important holiday season,” explained Futurum Research founder Daniel Newman on Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade.
In the meantime, while major production delays would cripple the finances of most manufacturers, Apple is not a normal manufacturer. It’s a tech beast selling hardware that generates real-time money through various services and downloads. In turn, sell-side analysts estimate Apple will produce nearly $60 billion in free cash flow this year. That will easily allow Apple to fund a solid dividend and steady stream of profit-cushioning stock buybacks.
Apple ended its fiscal year (year ended Dec. 28) with more than $107 billion in cash and short-term investments.
“With a company with that much cash on their balance sheet, they are in a strong position to weather volatility,” notes Apple bull and chief market strategist at Crossmark Global Investments Victoria Fernandez.
And weather production delays, too.