Playing Devil's Advocate? UBS Sees 3 'Existential' Threats To Apple
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) is the largest public company in the world and the most widely-owned stock in the market. However, UBS analyst Steven Milunovich doesn’t believe that makes the company invincible. According to Milunovich, Apple faces three major threats to its business in coming years.
First, Milunovich believes that messaging and automated bots could threaten Apple's $50 billion App Store. In China, highly-functional messaging service WeChat provides services such as paying bills, hailing cabs and checking into flights. Bot software like the software offered in Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FB)’s new Messenger Bot Store could also take share from Apple’s apps.
The Second Trial
Second, Milunovich believes that China, one of Apple’s major untapped sources of growth, could choose to circle the wagons and provide regulatory advantages to local smartphone vendors. Chinese government favoritism has been a severe headwind for enterprise computing companies in recent years.
The Final Potential Peril
Finally, Milunovich worries about Apple losing iPhone market share to lower-priced competitors. With the rise of smartphone technology across the board, Apple will continue to struggle to make its iPhone technology worth the premium price. Consumers have a wide range of lower-priced choices that could be deemed “good enough.”
“Given the history of hardware commoditization, bulls are taking the position that Apple is an exception to history,” Milunovich warned.
UBS maintains a Buy rating and $120 price target for Apple.
Disclosure: The author holds no position in the stocks mentioned.
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