JP Morgan initiates coverage of AAPL with $272 target, lauds underrated services biz

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Investment bank JP Morgan on Thursday initiated coverage on shares of Apple with an "Overweight" rating and $272 price target, saying it sees "considerable upside" for the company based on its leadership position in the smartphone market and the services it uses to amplify those revenues.

"While Apple's leadership position in the premium smartphone market is well understood by investors, we still see considerable upside to the stock from current levels," analyst Samik Chatterjee wrote in an inaugural research note seen by AppleInsider.

Chatterjee joined a chorus of other analysts in praising Apple's transition into a services-based business, along with rising iPhone ASPs (average selling prices), and continued innovation. He also lauded the company for its recent stock buybacks and strong balance sheet, which the analyst sees Apple using for "outsized share repurchases or M&A."

Chatterjee, like Gene Munster and several other analysts, believes services as key for Apple in the future and that concerns about iPhone volumes have driven investors to "overlook the robust growth in the installed base."

"We believe the transformation to services, led by growth in both installed devices and service revenue per device, is tracking better than investor expectation, including achieving revenue target of $48 billion by FY20E ahead of schedule," the analyst wrote. "The Services opportunity is currently derived primarily from App Store purchases and there are multiple emerging drivers, such as Apple Music and Apple Pay, which should continue to drive strong growth."

In his note, Chatterjee also predicted that Apple will soon offer an "all-encompassing Media subscription," which will include its video offerings along with newspaper and magazine content, for a price point of around $14.99.

"We expect Apple to combine the video and print media offering (through acquisition of Texture) to offer a packaged subscription at $14.99/month relative to $9.99 for Apple Music and drive Apple Music subscribers to upgrade to the packaged subscription, while at the same time growing the subscriber base at a rapid pace," he wrote. "We estimate Apple's incremental media offerings beyond Music to drive an incremental $2.8 billion of revenues by 2025."

Shares of AAPL rose to a new all time high Thursday during inter-day trading and are currently trading up $5.36, or 2.43%, to $225.79 on the NASDAQ stock exchange.