2 Factors That Could Launch Apple Higher in 2014

With such a large and complex company, it is easy to get lost in the sauce when determining its worthiness as an investment. How should you know which way to turn when so much information is thrown at you? Just remember that at the end of the day, all of the little theories and opinions mean nothing; all that matters is the stock price. This article ignores petty thoughts and information about Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) and zeroes in on the two most important factors that will launch Apple higher in 2014. 

Sales growth in China
China is an incredibly important market for Apple which has reached a multi-year agreement with China Mobile, which on January 17 began selling iPhones through their network of stores.

China Mobile (NYSE: CHL  ) has more subscribers than any mobile phone company--over 771 million as of January 31. At the start of 2014, Apple was selling iPhones through China Mobile in just 16 cities. By the end of 2014, Apple projects that number to rise to nearly 300 cities . This new contract has the potential to greatly increase revenue for Apple as well as China Mobile.

The Chinese growth prospects above don't require a specific forecast--it is clear that Chinese iPhone sales will grow exponentially this year. However, a rough forecast of how many iPhones Apple will sell in China in 2014 may be helpful. 

First of all, the partnership will obviously boost the availability of iPhones to Chinese consumers. China Mobile has three quarters of a billion subscribers and Apple projects that its iPhones will be sold by China Mobile in 18 times more cities by the end of the year. The question is how will they sell in the region?

Source: Umeng.

According to a report by Umeng, high-end smartphones (pricing above $500) have a significant market share in China, contributing 27% of total devices. Since the Apple iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c are two of the very few models capable of working on China Mobile's new 4G network, it seems logical to expect a large increase in iPhone sales in China for 2014. Let's assume 27% of China Mobile customers use a high-end device. If Apple can sell an iPhone to one quarter of high-end device users, that would equal sales of about 47 million iPhones to China Mobile customers in 2014.

iOS devices account for 57% of all mobile web browsing in China. iPad sales more than doubled year over year in Q1 2014 in Mainland China. In China, developers have created over 130,000 apps on the App Store. I think it is safe to say that the Chinese like Apple products and will continue purchasing iPads and iPhones at an increasing rate in 2014.

New product category introduction
According to Tim Cook, a new product category will be released in 2014. I believe this new product will be successful based on Apple's track record of outstanding product releases.

Many people believe that, with the death of Steve Jobs, Apple may have lost its innovative edge in the marketplace, but I don't believe it is true. Steve Jobs was without a doubt the leader of the great Apple turnaround; he shook up the company and implemented a new culture that bred innovation and efficiency. But I have faith that the innovative culture Steve Jobs created will live on for years to come. He created the blueprint; the employees built and maintained the machine.

To assume his death stripped the company of its wherewithal to innovate seems illogical. Apple was Jobs' life passion; to believe he didn't possess the insight to prepare the company for his inevitable departure seems foolish (small f intended). I believe there is a great chance Apple will continue its pattern of creating innovative products and if this pattern does continue, it will surely create continued growth for years to come.

So what will this new product category be?

In March, Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL  )  announced that it will be extending its android platform to fit "wearable" products (watches). This suggests that Google believes there is a large market for watches that is largely untapped. It may be logical to assume that Apple will soon follow suit by entering the futuristic watch market with a new wearable product.

With a fresh new deal with the largest mobile phone service provider in the world and a new product category to be launched in 2014, I believe it is likely that Apple will move much higher in 2014.

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  • Report this Comment On April 03, 2014, at 9:29 AM, iphonerulez wrote:

    I personally don't think anything is going to "launch" Apple's share price much higher. Apple will continue to struggle to maintain it's current share price and most likely fail. Almost no one that matters on Wall Street has any faith in Tim Cook. I can already see Apple missing expectations (again) this quarter and the share price dropping back to around $500 or so. Apple never satisfies investors anymore. Apple is basically sitting back and letting Samsung eat its lunch and supper in the smartphone business.

    Why Apple thinks only the high end is important is beyond my understanding. The mid-range smartphone market is also valuable. Apple needs to get some respectable market share and can't just constantly lose market share. Wall Street investors never put money into a company with constantly shrinking market share and who can blame them. It's like a company that can't stop its own bleeding.

    Apple has been one of the worst performing profitable tech companies for all of 2013 and now 2014. I get tired of hearing Tim Cook talking about some mythical pipeline products and nothing ever shows up. Apple makes some fine products and all but a company that's sitting on $160 billion in reserve cash and can't figure out how to boost its revenue even a tiny bit is really an enigma of our economic times.

    If everyone believes that Steve Jobs is the only person capable of running Apple then the company is as good as dead. I think even if Apple does come out with a great-selling product, Wall Street is going to simply say it's a fluke and Apple's value still won't improve. Wall Street's mindset is that Apple can't succeed without Steve Jobs and nothing Tim Cook does will change that outlook.

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Michael Nielsen

Michael is a full-time MBA student and certified stock market junkie. For the Fool, he writes articles about the telecom industry. To see some of his market-beating investment ideas, follow him on twitter

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