Cupertino, Calif.-based tech titan Apple Inc. (AAPL) has seen its shares jump about 1.2% at $168.75 on Monday following a bullish note from analysts on the Street who suggest investors should start to look at it as more of a luxury brand than a tech stock.
HSBC reiterated its buy rating on AAPL, applauding the company’s continued push into the luxury market with the release of its more expensive iPhone models. On Friday, the iPhone X will be available at a starting price of $999. Initial positive reviews of the device and reports of strong preorder demand sent AAPL to an all-time high on Monday. (See also: Buy Apple, as BofA Sees Stock Surging on Tax Plan.)
HSBC analyst Erwan Rambourg expects shares to rise near 15% to $193, banking on Apple’s success in the high-end retail store experiences. The stock has already gained 45.7% year-to-date (YTD) versus the S&P 500’s 15.1% climb over the same period.
‘Just Scratching the Surface of its Retail Potential’
“Recently, with an offensive retail strategy and in some cases comparable price points, Apple has competed with the likes of Louis Vuitton, Cartier or Prada which made us raise the question: is Apple actually a luxury stock? Yes,” wrote Rambourg in a research note to clients on Tuesday.
The analyst expects Apple’s retail penetration to grow “substantially” with the help of talent poached from luxury companies. New players at Apple should help give the company “insights into premiumisation as well as mainland Chinese consumers,” a segment he believes is key to the market and “the future of that industry.” Rambourg says Apple’s 500 retail stores with 500 million store visitors per year is only the beginning for the brand, indicating the smartphone maker is “just scratching the surface of its retail potential.”
Like other luxury brands, Apple should continue to benefit from consumers that are “buying the spirit of the brand and the way it makes them feel about themselves and in society,” Rambourg said. (See also: Buy Apple on ‘Super-Long’ iPhone Cycle: RBC.)