Apple shareholders have a lot to look forward to if the forecast of RBC Capital Markets equity analyst Amit Daryanani comes to pass.
He told CNBC
that the company may return $150 billion to $200 billion to shareholders through dividends and share buybacks during the next three years.
"I know it's a big number. It actually equates to about 25 percent of the market cap," Daryanani said. Apple's market capitalization totaled $749.6 billion Thursday.
"What's interesting, though is the amount of free cash flow Apple is going to create over three years," he noted. "So, while these are big numbers, they actually reflect the fact that Apple's generating a ton of cash, and they already have a big pile of cash on the balance sheet."
Apple's cash reserve totaled $155 billion at the end of last year.
Daryanani has a near-term target price of $140 to $150 for Apple. It traded at $128.66 Thursday afternoon.
Morningstar analyst Brian Colello
puts Apple's fair value at $120.
"We believe Apple's strength lies in its experience and expertise in integrating hardware, software, services, and third-party applications into differentiated devices that allow Apple to capture a premium on hardware sales," he wrote on Morningstar.com.
"Although Apple has a sterling brand, strong product pipeline, and ample opportunity to gain share in its various end markets, short product life cycles and intense competition will prevent the firm from resting on its laurels, or carving out a wide economic moat."
Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes is a raging bull on Apple, as iPhone sales surge. He told CNBC
the shares could reach $150.
Strong free cash flow will spark the move, Reitzes said. Free cash flow totaled $30.46 billion in the quarter ended Dec. 27. That exceeded analysts' expectations by about 40 percent.
"Free cash flow is what, in my training, pushes a stock and really moves it. That's what you get to reinvest in the business, buy other companies and ultimately return cash to shareholders," Reitzes explained.
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