When it comes to how Apple Inc.’s (AAPL) iPhone X is selling during the holiday season, Wall Street can’t seem to get on the same page. Despite pointing to the same data in some instances, some analysts think the iPhone X is seeing strong demand while others are painting a lackluster picture. The divergence between Wall Street underscores just how hard it is to ascertain if the Cupertino, Calif., technology powerhouse has a hit on its hands.

Underscoring the difference in opinions, Marketwatch pointed to KeyBanc Capital Markets as one example of the bear side of things. In a research report last week, the Wall Street firm said that based on global search volume, the iPhone X is tracking similar to the iPhone 6S but “well below” the search volume seen for the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 7. As a result of current search volume data, analysts at Keybanc think the new features aren't enough to drive a huge upgrade cycle for Apple. Also in the subdued camp, according to MarketWatch, is UBS analyst Steven Milunovich who said demand is “flattish,” basing the remark on a survey conducted recently. (See also: Apple's Best Days Ahead in China: Morgan Stanley.)

A Dissenting View

The bull side includes the likes of Piper Jaffray and Raymond James, both of which think Apple has a huge hit on its hands citing search volume data as well. Toward the end of November, Raymond James said in a note to clients, covered by MarketWatch, that all data points were looking good around Black Friday and that search volume trends are on par with “decent year-over-year demand for the new iPhone lineup.” Meanwhile, Piper Jaffray surveyed more than 400 iPhone customers and found close to half will or may get a new smartphone this year. That’s up from 30% from the year-earlier survey, reported MarketWatch. While Piper Jaffray acknowledged there hasn't been a supercycle thanks to the iPhone X, it has more to do with supply than demand. On the supply front, analysts seem to agree more that Apple has made improvements in recent weeks. (See also: Apple Will Beat The Skeptics and Rise 27%: Guggenheim.)

The divergence in calls when it comes to how the iPhone X is doing during the all-important holiday selling season may be creating some confusion, but it's not impacting the stock price, at least as of yet. Shares of Apple finished Friday’s trading session at $169.37, up $0.05 or 0.03%. So far for the year, the stock is more than 40% higher. Citing FactSet, MarketWatch noted that in the past month 11 analysts have raised their price targets on the iPhone maker and two have raised their investment ratings. None of the 39 analysts who cover Apple have lowered their price target on the stock in the same time frame. Of the 39 analysts, MarketWatch noted that 32 have buy ratings and only one slapped a sell rating on Apple. The average target price of the Wall Street analysts stands at $190.70, implying around 12% more upside for the company.


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