Here are the top Apple (AAPL - Free Report) stories from last week:
Apple Watch for Seniors
As part of its big push into preventive healthcare, Apple is in talks with at least three private Medicare plans to cover/subsidize its Watch for senior citizens above 65 years of age. CNBC reports that there are around 19 million prospects (under the Medicare Advantage plan) that could be encouraged to wear such a device to track their health condition and take appropriate action to prevent a stroke or heart attack among other things. At the very least, such action may be able to reduce the number of visits to the emergency room.
Like Amazon (AMZN - Free Report) , which is also trying to reduce the overall cost of healthcare, Apple’s measures are designed to rope in insurance companies because they are the ones that stand to gain financially from fewer hospital visits. Other than people of course, but they may not want to go in for another $400 gadget, never mind that it can do fall detection, ECG, atrial fibrillation and such.
With Medicare, the government pays around $10,000 per member for providing services to seniors and wouldn’t it be neat if this money could pay or subsidize the Watch.
So now, Apple needs to demonstrate that the devices actually do what they promise. Which is why it’s doing a heart study with Stanford University and why it’s partnered with Zimmer Biomet to prove speedier recovery from knee and hip replacement procedures using the Watch.
And then, there’s Johnson & Johnson, with which it’s doing a study to see how a J&J app works with Apple’s Watch to detect and diagnose irregular heart rhythms, or atrial fibrillation, so customers can visit a doctor, get into a suitable healthcare plan or change their lifestyle as appropriate.
“We’re just at the front end of this," Cook said in a CNBC interview. "But I do think, looking back, in the future, you will answer that question: Apple's most important contribution to mankind has been in health."
Verizon Pulls Closer to Apple
Apple Music subscribers are swelling and Verizon’s (VZ - Free Report) inclusion of the service in its premium bundles (Beyond Unlimited at $85 a month and Above Unlimited at $95 a month) will bring further growth. Verizon is offering the Apple service free, which makes it all the more attractive.
Including Apple not only brings its 50 million songs to Verizon premium subscribers for streaming across iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, Mac, HomePod, CarPlay, PCs and Android devices, but also sets the stage for later collaboration on video as Apple continues to splurge on original content. Its peers T-Mobile offers Netflix, Sprint offers Hulu while AT&T offers its own HBO Now service as well as other options.
Adding Verizon customers immediately boosts Apple subscribers with much-needed service revenue to follow. What’s more, this creates the basic framework for distribution of video content when Apple’s original productions are ready. Verizon being late to pick up a partner here has actually worked well for Apple.
Tim Cook on Privacy
Apple, the A in the FAANG story never misses an opportunity to take pot shots at Facebook (FB - Free Report) and Alphabet (GOOGL - Free Report) , the F and the G. Apple doesn’t depend on ad sales, so minimizes the amount of information it carries on its users, especially in unencrypted form. So it’s hard for these companies to shout back at Apple.
Here are snippets from Apple CEO Tim Cook’s op-ed for Time magazine, written for “comprehensive federal privacy legislation” -
"One of the biggest challenges in protecting privacy is that many of the violations are invisible."
“Consumers shouldn’t have to tolerate another year of companies irresponsibly amassing huge user profiles, data breaches that seem out of control and the vanishing ability to control our own digital lives.”
“Technology has the potential to keep changing the world for the better, but it will never achieve that potential without the full faith and confidence of the people who use it.”
"All of these secondary markets for your information exist in a shadow economy that’s largely unchecked -- out of sight of consumers, regulators and lawmakers," Cook wrote. "Let’s be clear: you never signed up for that."
"The Federal Trade Commission should establish a data-broker clearinghouse, requiring all data brokers to register, enabling consumers to track the transactions that have bundled and sold their data from place to place, and giving users the power to delete their data on demand, freely, easily and online, once and for all."
Germany Sides with Apple vs. Qualcomm
The regional court in the city of Mannheim dismissed the first of six patent infringement lawsuits brought by Qualcomm (QCOM - Free Report) against Apple in Mannheim. After adverse rulings in Munich and Fuzhou (China), Apple temporarily removed the older model iPhones in dispute while keeping its latest models on sale in the country. The second ruling is slated for next month.
As may be expected, Qualcomm said it would appeal while Apple said it was happy with the decision.
A separate court decision in Munich earlier banned the German sale of Apple's iPhone 7 and 8. Apple reportedly also received a negative ruling in China for its iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X.
However, last November, Qualcomm was also handed a defeat by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, which also ordered it to make its essential technology for modem chips available to rivals, as requested by the U.S. ITC.
There’s a maze of litigation going on out there. As far as investors are concerned, there’s unlikely to be any major impact on Apple in the foreseeable future. And since neither party is expected to back down right now, it’s a good thing that the financial impact that won’t be material for Apple.
Zacks' Top 10 Stocks for 2019
In addition to the stocks discussed above, would you like to know about our 10 finest buy-and-holds for the year?
Who wouldn't? Our annual Top 10s have beaten the market with amazing regularity. In 2018, while the market dropped -5.2%, the portfolio scored well into double-digits overall with individual stocks rising as high as +61.5%. And from 2012-2017, while the market boomed +126.3, Zacks' Top 10s reached an even more sensational +181.9%.
See Latest Stocks Today >>