The Street is still buzzing about Apple and its amazing quarterly performance numbers, boosted by solid iPod and iPhone sales, especially in the month of March.
Apple’s stock is selling at $125 per share right now, but there is no shortage of analysts who believe that stock price is a steal, and that Apple could see its stock price reach to $180-per-share.
That’s the take from Gene Munster, technology analyst at Piper Jaffray: He has set a target price of $180 per share for Apple, and explains why in a note to investors this week: “We remains buyers of AAPL; March quarter results confirm that demand for Apple’s products remain strong despite a tough macro environment,” he writes. “New iPhones and the potential for Jobs to return in June should be catalysts for shares to move higher over the next several weeks. We expect growth to re-accelerate when macro trends improve.”
The macro look for tech stocks is not as bullish – mostly due to a surprisingly lousy U.S. housing market number released today. According to government figures, existing home sales fell by 3.0% from February to March to an annual rate of 4.57 million, falling below the 4.7 million consensus. This is likely to take some of the euphoria out of the housing market after February's very positive numbers. Investors may now be hoping that February was not a one-time anomaly following government actions; nevertheless, sales remained above the November lows. Average prices for single family homes also ticked up by 3.4% to the highest level in three-months, which may suggest that even though sales aren't ready to shoot higher, there is some stabilization occurring.
Until homeowners feel comfortable in their own homes, there won’t be the boost in tech spending that the industry is counting on. That’s the reality – look at the prudent, cost-cutting steps that some technology companies are still using to weather the storm.
EMC, for example, said today said it will temporarily cut employee base pay by 5% through the end of the year as part of a plan to reduce its cost structure by $100 million a year, in addition to $350 million in previous cuts. In a company statement, EMC also said that it will make changes in its employee stock purchase program, 401(k) savings plan and vacation policy. The good news for EM employees is that the new cost-cutting measures won’t result in any layoffs. EMC also came out with quarterly revenue numbers today that are pretty much in line with what analysts had expected. Better yet, the company said that even though the second quarter of 2009 will be about the same as Q1, the second half of the year should yield bigger profits.
EMC stock is currently trading in the $12 range.