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Apple Nears $3 Trillion. Why It Could Still Be a Top Stock Pick for 2022.

An Apple store in Tampa.

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Apple is a top stock pick for Morgan Stanley in 2022 as the tech giant nears a $3 trillion market capitalization and prepares to launch an augmented reality product.

“The combination of a strong, loyal customer base and the upcoming launch of AR/VR products positions AAPL for a re-rating in 2022,” analyst Katy Huberty wrote in a note Thursday. Huberty wrote that Apple was Morgan Stanley’s “favorite large cap (and overall Top Pick)” heading into 2022.

Huberty’s call comes two days after she reiterated an Overweight rating on shares of Apple (ticker: AAPL) and raised her price target 21% to $200 from $164.

Apple shares were rising 0.2% to $175.47 on Thursday. The stock has risen about 32% this year, reaching a market capitalization of $2.87 trillion. Over the last month, it has jumped 19%, outperforming the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s 0.5% rise, the S&P 500’s 0.9% gain, and the Nasdaq Composite’s 0.04% advance.

Morgan Stanley believes investors should value Apple as a consumer and technology platform rather than a cyclical hardware company, given that around a third of gross profits come from the company’s services segment. iPhone 13 demand will continue to drive growth in the short term, with new product launches in early 2022 continuing the trend, Huberty wrote.

Wedbush’s Dan Ives echoed Huberty’s bullish call, citing strong iPhone 13 demand and the upcoming launch of augmented reality headsets.

“This week our Apple store checks, supply chain data, and iPhone order delays all confirm our bullish view that currently demand is outstripping supply for iPhones 13 by roughly 10 million units globally,” Ives wrote in a research note Thursday.

Ives estimated that Apple was on pace to sell more than 40 million iPhones during the holiday season, despite chip shortage and supply-chain headwinds. These headwinds are likely to be “nothing more than a speed bump” on the iPhone 12 and 13 cycle as consumers continue to upgrade their phones.

Ives also foresees Apple launching AR headset “Apple Glasses” around the summer of 2022, which could add $20 per share to the company’s valuation.

Other tailwinds include gaining a share of the PC market, strong cash returns, and future advances in augmented reality, payments, and talk of an upcoming expansion into vehicle manufacturing, Huberty added.

“We also believe investors need to properly embed value from the optionality of upcoming new product launches,” she wrote.

There are still some risks to the bullish case for Apple stock. Chief among them is that iPhone sales fail to materialize in 2022, as work-from-home demand peters off, Huberty outlined.

Another risk could come with low growth in the services sector, potentially driven by court-imposed changes to the App Store payment model. Even that risk looked less likely as Apple notched another victory in its legal battle with Fortnite publisher Epic Games on Wednesday.

Write to Sabrina Escobar at [email protected]

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