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Apple stock is BofA's Top Pick for 2024. Here's why

Published 22/04/2024, 14:06
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Despite a recent pullback in Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock price, Bank of America (BofA) is bullish on the tech giant, naming it a top pick for 2024. This comes even as the broader market grapples with a correction. In the note, BofA delves into why it expects a strong June guide from the iPhone maker and the catalysts to focus on for the rest of the year.

Apple stock weakness explained

Apple's stock price has experienced some weakness recently, down over 11% this year and more than 5% in the last week of trading. This pullback can be attributed to several forces at play.

The overall market correction has undoubtedly impacted Apple's stock. As investors turn cautious in a downturn, they may be pulling back from riskier assets, including technology stocks.

However, there have been more specific reasons for the Apple stock price decline this year. Concerns over iPhone demand are playing a role, with fears regarding slowing iPhone sales or a lack of innovation in the latest releases leading some investors to worry about Apple's future growth prospects.

In addition, competition in China and Apple’s perceived lack of movement in artificial intelligence has also impacted the stock.

Despite the recent weakness, Bank of America remains optimistic about Apple's long-term prospects.

BofA sees rich catalyst path ahead

BofA told investors in a note Monday that there is a “rich catalyst path” ahead for Apple, with defensive cash flows making it their top pick for 2024.

The catalyst includes re-upping the capital return at its earnings, generative artificial intelligence announcements at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, the launch of new iPhones in the fall, and a reacceleration in gross profit dollar growth each quarter.

“Our checks indicate that all 4 new models of iPhone this year could be launched with the same application processor (A18) that can enable improved AI/machine learning performance,” said BofA.

Elsewhere, BofA continues to model double-digit year-over-year revenue growth for Services and sees upside in Services margins as the business continues to scale and on long-term opportunities, including in-sourcing server chips and reducing reliance on public cloud providers.

“We expect continued strong revenue growth in Licensing, App Store, iCloud, and subscriptions,” added Bank of America.

The bank, which reiterated a Buy rating and $225 price target on Apple stock, added that it predicts Apple beat analysts consensus estimates when it reports on May 2. They believe Apple will bring in up to $1 billion in revenue from their new Vision Pro sales.

However, for the following quarter (ending in June, or F3Q24), BofA lowered its iPhone sales prediction to 40 million units, down from their previous estimate of 43 million. This aligns with a weaker overall demand for phones.

Even so, the investment bank believes the current Apple stock price already reflects the weaker demand environment.

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