When it comes to the sellside putting up ludicrous upside price targets on any stock, and especially cult-favorite Apple, the media world is all smiles: after all, with AAPL once again the defining stock of the Nasdaq, and on many low volume days determining how the entire S&P trades, what can go wrong if everyone is invested in one company (and according to Goldman, most hedge funds already are). However, dare to suggest that the price of a company whose forward earnings multiple has more than doubled in the past two years, is massively overbought and prepare to suffer the full wrath of the Apple Borg collective, also known by the NSA as "zombies who are paying customers."
Which is why few if any ever dare to go against the wisdom, or madness, of the crowd. After all, there is safety in numbers, and if one analyst is wrong (on Apple or anything else for that matter) they will all be wrong, so there will be no individual blame (one of the main reasons why nobody has gone to prison over the first Great Financial Crisis).
Yet one bank which dared to go dramatically against the grain is Germany's Berenberg Bank, which earlier today forecast that AAPL's price will crash to $60, a plunge of more than 50%, due to two things: the law of large numbers, and over-reliance on one single product as the iPhone accounts for 85% of AAPL's operating profit. Putting this in perspective, the vast majority of sellside analysts have a price target well over $100. In fact there are as of this moment only 3 double digit AAPL price targets.
The highest price targets:
And the lowest ones:
Apple Insider obtained a full copy of the note. In it, analyst Adnaan Ahmad writes that Apple relies too heavily on the iPhone for its profits. "Ahmad noted that the iPhone accounts for 70 percent of Apple's revenues, and 85 percent of its operating profit. Simply put, Ahmad believes that the "law of large numbers" will quickly catch up with Apple."
This is hardly news: so what is the driver?
"As this accelerated replacement cycle slows down, iPhone volumes will turn negative in terms of growth," the analyst wrote. "As we have also stated, there is, in our view, a limit to how much share Apple can take at the high-end, and its price premium and recent hike must narrow over time, as it has done in the consumer electronic space (even for Apple's other products — iPod, iPad and Mac)."
What about Google Glass, pardon the Apple Watch?
Ahmad doesn't see much hope on the horizon from the Apple Watch, but he is bullish on the prospect of an Apple-built automobile. The analyst said he believes that Apple should acquire electric-car maker Tesla to give it a foothold in the auto business.
So in the nightmare scenario where Berenberg is right what will that mean for Apple (if not for the Nasdaq and S&P which will suffer an epic collapse with Apple accounting for the bulk of Nasdaq index upside and the bulk of S&P earnings upside)? Well, not that much actually, because all that will happen is that the recent massive multiple expansion which had seen AAPL's forward PE soar to over 15x on speculation and fact of massive stock buybacks, is to revert back to a much more normal level last seen in that long ago summer of... 2013.