Apple is reportedly coming out with a new iPhone that will be so popular to consumers that it will drive the price of Apple’s stock up to over $140 per share.
That’s the view of Barclays Capital analyst Ben Reitzes, who upped his target price this morning on Apple from $113 per share to $143 per share. (Apple is trading at $115 per share right now). Reitzes is betting on a new suite of iPhones coming out in June that will amount to a “robust new product cycle for iPhones” that will be a big hit with consumers.
In his target rating, Reitzes says that the new iPhone should include upgraded cameras (with a video component), new software, better e-mail and improved security. Barclays also expects a big distribution deal in China is in the works, which would further prime the pump for a run-up in Apple stock.
Other Wall Street analysts are already on board. Collins Stewart technology analyst Ashok Kumar says that Apple has “set in place a supply chain ecosystem to support the launch of a touch screen tablet” in the second half that he says will be positioned in between the iPhone and the Mac. He writes that key suppliers will include Intel - for the processor - and Sharp - for the display.
Elsewhere in the technology sector, the news isn’t as rosy. According to the job placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, U.S. technology firms announced planned job cuts totaling 84,217 in the first quarter, up 27 percent from 66,312 in the previous quarter. Challenger says that it was the largest quarterly job-cut tally for the sector since 2002, when 133,511 layoffs were announced in the fourth quarter, according to the report released Monday by global outplacement firm, Inc.
First-quarter tech sector job cuts were nearly five times higher than the 17,345 cuts announced during the same period a year ago. Job cuts in the sector, which includes telecommunications, computer and electronics firms, have increased in each of the last five quarters, growing by an average of 42 percent every three months.
Despite the increase, quarterly technology job cuts remain well below the levels reached during the dot.com collapse that resulted in 1,163,742 tech-sector job cuts in 2001 and 2002. During that period, employers announced an average of 145,467 job cuts each quarter.
“Unfortunately, no industry appears to be immune in this recession. Even the health care sector, which has consistently added jobs throughout the downturn, is starting to see those gains shrink. And continued job creation in the federal government is being offset by large-scale losses at the state and local level, due largely to a rapidly deteriorating tax base,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
“Of course, when all these sectors make cutbacks, it inevitably impacts the technology sector. Just last week, Forrester Research said it expects information technology spending to drop by 3.1 percent this year, which was much higher than its initial projection of a 1.6 percent decline,” said Challenger.
In addition to job cuts, a growing number of tech firms announced across-the-board salary cuts to help reduce costs. Just some of the notable technology firms announcing pay cuts in the first quarter included AMD, Seagate, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola. Some, including Yahoo, instituted pay freezes and others are suspending contributions to 401(k) plans.
Technology sector job cuts are expected to remain heavy in the coming months, according to Challenger. “We may start to see an increase in merger activity among tech firms, as they attempt to gain an economic and competitive foothold in this downturn. Most recently, IBM and Sun Microsystems have initiated talks over a possible corporate marriage,” said Challenger. I should note that talks between Sun and IBM have broken off over the weekend, but they could start up again at a moment’s notice.
“In most of these mergers, the first step taken to offset the cost of the merger is to eliminate redundant positions. For large entities like IBM and Sun, this could mean thousands of workers.”
So far in 2009, only 1,360 merger-related job cuts have been announced by tech firms and those were isolated to the telecommunications industry. In 2008, technology-sector mergers resulted in 31,313 job cuts, Challenger reports.