Does Wall Street "underappreciate Apple's future growth opportunities?"
Morgan Stanly analyst Katy Huberty called it that way in an investor's note that suggests that Apple shares could reach $400, given the momentum that it's having with mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPad. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Huberty suggests that strong demand for the iPhone and iPad, growth in China and inroads with the enterprise market position Apple for a strong year ahead, possibly two.
Shares of Apple opened today at $247.26 and are climbing, up more than 3 percent in regular trading today.
Huberty offers a pretty rosy outlook for a company that's dealing with a lot of pressure from Google, an up-and-coming thorn in Apple's side with its Android mobile devices. Google is quickly gaining ground with its army of Android devices and has sparked some interest in its Chrome OS, which is expected to be ready for prime-time later this year.
In the short-term, however, Apple is dealing with some iPad availability issues that could have an impact on its June quarter. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said checks at Apple retail stores shows "a very limited number of iPads available for purchase" and that Wall Street's estimates for the quarter may be getting ahead of what is reasonable. From the Munster note:
Given the international iPad launch on 5/28, and continued strong demand in the US, we expect supply constraints to last throughout the June quarter, reaching equilibrium in mid-to-late Sept. quarter. As such, while we see upside to our 1.3m iPad estimate in the June quarter and believe in the iPad as a long-term investable theme, we caution investors that we believe near-term Street numbers are getting ahead of what is reasonable given Apple's supply.
But let's also not forget a couple of important things: Apple always forecasts conservatively and regular blows away Wall Street's estimates. Likewise, Apple has a way of turning the tides with the snap of a finger - or at least with a news release that CEO Steve Jobs will deliver the opening keynote at Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference in San Francisco on June 7.
As always, there's no clear idea of what Jobs will present that day, though it's widely expected that Jobs will introduce the next-generation iPhone. Of course, we already know what the iPhone's next OS will look like - Jobs gave that presentation back in April. And there's also been an inadvertent peek at the hardware itself, via the left-behind prototype that found a home on the pages of Gizmodo last month.
By now, there should be speculation galore about the next iPhone in the tech blogosphere - but Gizmodo pretty much squashed that. Whether Jobs and Company has an ace in the hole is unclear. Perhaps Jobs will bust out with one of his once-famous "One More Thing" presentations to close out the keynote.
Jobs, who has been in the habit lately of answering e-mails from regular Joes, told an iPhone user over the weekend that "you won't be disappointed" by the upcoming keynote and also responded to another reader who asked whether Android was surpassing the iPhone with a "not a chance."
In two weeks, we'll know for sure.