Analyst Expects Apple to Issue Dividend Soon

Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Walkley on Wednesday issued a new research note obtained by TMO. Mr. Walkley wrote: “We believe Apple is likely to announce a dividend during 2012, potentially next quarter when crossing $100B in cash and cash equivalents. We view this as very bullish for investors, as we believe a new group of investors seeking dividends would invest in Apple and drive shares higher.”

As with other analysts who follow the company, Mr. Walkley found most of his estimates outclassed by Apple’s results. In particular, the 37 million iPhones sold last quarter “crushed our 30.5 million estimate and consensus estimate of 30.2 million,” he wrote. He calculated an increase in the iPhone’s average selling price (ASP), a trend he expects to continue during the current quarter “as loyal Apple consumers tend to buy a greater mix of higher memory and thus higher ASP devices.”

Mr. Walkley also estimated that Apple’s unit share of the smartphone market jumped from 14 percent in calendar 3Q11 to 23 percent in 4Q11. “In fact,” he wrote, “we believe the iPhone 4S is the top selling smartphone at almost all carriers where the device has launched globally.” He bumped his estimate of iPhone sales for calendar year 2012 from 116 million units to 140 million.

He summed up his thoughts: “We believe Apple is well positioned for very strong calendar year 2012/13 sales and earnings growth driven by new product introductions, including the pending refresh of MacBook Air, the iPad 3 launching this spring, an LTE iPhone likely in 3Q12 and potentially Apple TV exiting calendar 2012.”

Mr. Walkley reiterated his Buy rating on the stock and raised his price target from US$560 to $650. At 11:35 AM Eastern time on Wednesday, Apple shares were selling for $448.84, up $28.43 or 6.76 percent.