Apple's loyalty rate, up from 86 percent a year ago, is based on an April 2017 survey of 1,000 iPhone owners aged 18 and above in the United States. It's the iPhone's highest retention rate measured by Morgan Stanley since a record high of 93 percent set in September 2015, when the iPhone 6s launched.
An excerpt from Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty's research note distributed today:
It's our belief that a maturing installed base that is accustomed to iOS and increased press around potential new technologies in the upcoming iPhone drove the strong year-over-year increase. Importantly, the rise in Apple's loyalty rates comes after Samsung, Apple's biggest competitor in the United States, introduced the Galaxy S8, which was available for pre-order starting March 30th. Apple's loyalty rate of 92% dwarfs that of all other vendors, with Samsung garnering a 77% retention rate, followed by LG (59%), Motorola (56%), and Nokia (42%).Despite reports suggesting "iPhone 8" mass production could be delayed by months, Huberty said Morgan Stanley's Greater China Technology Research colleagues have "not yet seen delays in the supply chain" and still expect new iPhone production to start on time for most components, including the OLED display.
"Nevertheless, we remain conservative in our initial expectations for iPhone supply," the research note cautioned.
Morgan Stanley raised its price target for Apple's stock to $177 today, up from $161, given growing confidence in its 2018 fiscal year "supercycle" estimates, along with a greater mix of recurring, high-margin services revenue, and a larger cash balance with potential for repatriation in the United States.
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