Apple Regains Financial Ground, France’s Fines and More

The Daily Observations

News from the financial front, a fine and a remodel for Apple in France, and new and returning titles for Apple TV+.

Apple Market Valuation Back Above $2T on Wednesday

“Apple barely returns to $2 trillion market cap after dip…” so said an AppleInsider headline on Wednesday. Kind of funny to me, since it was barely under $2 trillion on Tuesday. End of trading on 3 January, Apple’s market valuation stood at $1.99 trillion. 24-hours later it was $2.01 trillion. 

It’s almost like it barely moved. 

Wedbush Cuts Apple to $175 While Staying ‘Outperform’

One of the most bullish Apple bulls has reassessed the climb. Apple 3.0 ran part of a note from Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives on Wednesday, wherein he cut his price target on Apple shares in a pretty big way. Not his rating on the company — he’s still into it. But Apple’s currently trading around $126, his price target had been $200, and that’s a steep climb in 12-months — especially, it seems, the 12-months ahead. Quoting his note:

With the fears of a softer holiday December quarter around the corner on China supply chain shortages, the Street continues to sell off the stock in an unabated fashion with worries around an uncertain 2023 ahead for Cupertino. Our Asia supply chain checks are clearly mixed heading into the next few quarters and Cupertino appears to be cutting back on some orders around Macs, iPads, and AirPods over the coming quarters to reflect a softer consumer backdrop. 

Not that all of the news is bad. “…iPhone 14 Pro demand appears to be more stable than feared,” in his estimation. That said, he sees potential weakness for iPhone overall, pointing to the perceived “strikeout” that is iPhone 14 Plus. 

Honestly, he’s kind of all over the place. He’s worried about the selloff and consumer strength. At the same time, he says he and his “believe the overall demand environment is more resilient than the Street is anticipating…” They also believe the “massive amount of bad news ahead” is already baked into the stock. 

He really didn’t want to change his target, it seems. And yet — he did anyway. Quoting his note again:

On a sum-of-the-parts valuation we continue to believe $200 is the right valuation for Apple reflecting its core services business with a base case valuation in the $175 range. We are lowering our price target from $200 to $175 reflecting a more base case valuation in this uncertain environment as some demand headwinds starts to creep into the Cupertino growth story. 

He wraps the note saying, “Apple remains our favorite tech name and we maintain our OUTPERFORM rating.” 

Apple Sets February 2 for December-Quarter Earnings Report

One more month of this until we hear something from Apple. The Cupertino-company updated its investor relations page on Wednesday, saying when the next earnings report and associated call will be. Earnings for the much troubled December-quarter will drop via press release on Thursday, Feb. 2 — Groundhog Day, believe it or not. The numbers will hit after the bell — 4:30 p.m. EST/1:30 p.m. PST. Folks get 30-minutes to snack on those, then comes the call. Apple execs will join Apple watching financial analysts at 5:00 p.m. EST/2:00 p.m. PST for color, questions, and answers. You can listen to that as it happens on Apple’s site. The company will make it available as a podcast soon after. And — of course — we’ll go over the big points right here on Feb. 3, which I believe is Groundhog Boxing Day or something. 

France Fines Apple $8.5M Over Personalized Ads in iOS

Apple has been hit with an 8M euro fine in France. 9to5Mac says the Cupertino-company has been penalized the equivalent of $8.5 million over the way it used to serve personalized ads in iOS. In a statement posted Wednesday, the country’s National Commission on Informatics and Liberty said it had found:

…that under the old version 14.6 of the iPhone operating system, when a user went to the App Store, identifiers for several purposes, including purposes of customizing advertising ads displayed on the App Store, were by default automatically read on the terminal without collecting consent.

The country settled on the penalty amount of €8M based on the number of people affected, as well as the amount Apple makes on ads. While $8.5 million may seem like chump change for the Cupertino-company, it’s not an amount Apple’s interested in paying. Apple issued a statement saying:

We are disappointed with this decision given the [Commission] has previously recognized that how we serve search ads in the App Store prioritizes user privacy, and we will appeal.

Report: Lyon Apple Store Closing for Refresh

One Apple Store in France is going dark for a bit. AppleInsider cites a report from MacGeneration, saying Apple Confluence in Lyon will close mid-month to be “refreshed.” 

The store still sports the classic look — aluminum walls and the old, wooden tables, according to the piece. “Details of the remodel aren’t known,” according to AppleInsider:

…but Apple will likely update this 1,200-square-meter store to be more in line with its other mall-based stores. Staff will apparently be moved to other stores in the city during renovations.

Nothing official on this from Apple, though MacGeneration says staff has been notified. They’ve also reportedly been told to “warn customers of the closing when handling repairs.” AppleInsider says Apple Confluence “is expected to close for at least two months starting on January 15.”

Apple TV+ Announces New Original Podcast ‘Operation: Tradebom’

News of new and returning titles from Apple TV+, starting with one that’s not TV. The Cupertino-streamer issued a press release Wednesday, announcing a new, original podcast. The podcast, “Operation: Tradebom”:

…tracks the investigation into the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and how this first attempt to bring down the towers changed our world forever…

It’s pretty fair to say this is the “forgotten” World Trade Center bombing — overshadowed as it was by 9/11 and its aftermath. That said, the description of the podcast does sound compelling. The release says:

“Operation: Tradebom” tracks the arrival of terrorism to American shores, through the voices of those who watched it happen firsthand — from Cairo in 1981 to downtown New York City on 9/11.

The show is hosted by Emmy winner and Academy Award nominee Marc Smerling. The first two of the podcast’s nine episodes premier next Monday, Jan. 9. The other seven will follow one-episode per week. You can catch a trailer for “Operation: Tradebom” on Apple Podcasts.

Apple TV+ Announces New Kids’ Series ‘Shape Island’

News of a new kids’ series from Apple TV+. In a press release Wednesday, the streaming service announced “Shape Island.” The release describes the show, saying:

This clever, funny and inspiring new stop-motion animated series from Apple TV+ takes place on a charming island and invites viewers to join serious Square, intrepid Circle and tricky Triangle on their silly adventures as they dig up some fun, search for answers and build on their friendship — all while learning how to navigate each other’s differences. “Shape Island” shows kids that friendship can take many shapes.

“Based on the internationally bestselling picture books from Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen,” the show “Shape Island” hits Apple TV+ on Friday, Jan. 20. 

Apple TV+ Outs Teaser for Second Season of ‘Foundation’

And finally today, Apple TV+ has teased the return of one of its most ambitious series. AppleInsider points readers to a teaser for season two of “Foundation.” You probably remember this one, but just in case you don’t, the piece says:

Based on the award-winning novels by Isaac Asimov, “Foundation” chronicles a group of exiles on their journey to save humanity and rebuild civilization amid the fall of the Galactic Empire.

It’s hard to tell what in the teaser is scenes from season-one versus scenes from the second season. Doesn’t make it less exciting, though. No hard release date for season two — just “Summer 2023.” You can see the trailer now on YouTube

Today on The Mac Observer’s Daily Observations Podcast

Have you suffered from Butterfly damage? TMO writer Nick deCourville joins me to talk over Apple’s in-process Butterfly keyboard settlement. Plus, Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives calls iPhone 14 Plus a strikeout… others call it a failure… I’ve got this crazy idea that Apple may know what it’s doing. Nick and I discuss it on the Daily Observations Podcast from The Mac Observer.

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