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Analyst Blog

Per media reports, Apple Inc. (AAPL - Analyst Report) is expected to unveil new Macs next week, much to the pleasure of Apple loyalists. However, there is no official word on the matter from the tech behemoth.

Speculations of the launch of a refreshed Mac lineup have been doing the rounds for quite some time now. The launch of MacOS Sierra last month without any devices that use the operating system made the rumor mills work overtime. Plus, Apple has rescheduled its earnings release (a rare occurrence) to Oct 25, which further increased speculations.

Apple is likely to host the Mac event on Oct 27 at its Cupertino headquarters, just a day after Microsoft’s (MSFT - Analyst Report) Windows 10 hardware event in New York.

For a long time, Apple has refrained from updating Macbook Pro, MacBook Air and iMacs. The company last announced updates (not much significant) to MacBook Pro (both 13-inch and 15-inch models) in early 2015. A major overhaul has been long overdue, which is why most experts have been advising consumers to postpone Mac purchases. 

Grapevine has it, Apple could unveil a new slimmer MacBook Pro with OLED display with “customizable touchscreen keys” to offer users shortcuts to different programs. The new MacBook is likely to feature fingerprint sensor and Siri Support along with USB-C connector.

A new 13-inch MacBook Air with USB-C support could also be in the offing. Bloomberg reported that Apple was also working on a new iMac version that has an option for new graphics chips from AMD.

The refresh comes at a time when the overall PC markets are witnessing a decline. Per Gartner and IDC, the PC market has been witnessing shipment declines over the past few years and the third quarter of 2016 was no exception. Per Gartner, PC shipments were down 5.7% year over year to 68.9 million units, marking the eighth consecutive quarter of a year-over-year drop, which according to the research firm, is “the longest duration of decline in the history of the PC industry.”

However, IDC had a little positive tone. Per IDC, shipments came in above expectations  and that PC companies had at last started building inventory again to “update products to leverage new processors and operating systems, to deliver a better computing experience encompassing more mobile, secure, and faster systems, and to accelerate PC replacements." Per IDC, PC shipments fell 3.9% year over year to about 68 million units in the third quarter.

Nonetheless, both firms agreed on the fact that Apple continues to witness a decline in shipments. We believe that this could be due to multiple factors like anticipation of updated Macs and cannibalization of its product categories rather than actual market share loss. We believe sales of Macs could witness a spurt following the launch of new models. Plus, the upcoming holiday season could also add to the sales numbers.

Currently, Apple is a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) stock. Better-ranked stocks in the broader tech space are Inc (AMZN - Analyst Report) and NetEase, Inc. (NTES - Snapshot Report) . Both stocks sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2016 for Amazon has gone up from $5.77 to $5.86 over the last 30 days while for NetEase, it has gone up from $11.95 to $12.32 per share.

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