On Thursday, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) sent out invitations to a September 9 event. Judging by the timing alone, new iPhone models will almost certainly make it to the stage. But, fortunately, more than the timing points to a refresh of Apple's flagship smartphones; the Apple rumor mill confirms this speculation, serving up a slew of leaks and reports to give us better insight into the specs of these new iPhones. Chances are, Apple will unveil a 4.7-inch smartphone and possibly even show off the company's first foray into phablets with a no-joke 5.5-inch jumbo iPhone.
But a new report from Re/code this week says there is more to the story for this September 9 event. Could Apple launch a product in an entirely new product category?
What we may see on September 9
Re/code's report included a few interesting details.
First, Re/code asserts that Apple will unveil both the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone. Up until now, it wasn't clear that Apple would be launching the larger phablet-sized iPhone. Production bottlenecks were reported by more than one source to be putting the 5.5-inch device on hold for a launch later this year. But given Re/code's reliable track record on reports like this, Apple has apparently solved any production issues if there were any.
Second, and most surprisingly, Re/code says Apple is going to launch a wearable device. Previously, Re/code was predicting Apple's wearable device, often referred to by the rumor mill as the iWatch, to launch in October. But October was simply a hedge, says Re/code's John Paczkowski.
Remember back in June when I said Apple hoped to schedule a special event in October to show off a new wearable device? Remember how I also said this: "Could things change between now and fall? That's certainly possible." Turns out that was a prescient hedge, because things have changed.
There's really no way to overstate the importance of this product-packed launch day. Not only is the market for smartphones larger than 4 inches already proven to be a winner with consumers across the globe, but also the iWatch could be meaningfully accretive to Apple's business.
It's a great time to be an Apple shareholder
With two new iPhone models and a foray into an entirely new category almost certainly just around the corner, the risk-reward profile for Apple stock is still favorable enough for long-term investors to buy shares.
Consider the potential catalysts new iPhones and an iWatch could become for the stock. Apple's iPhone business is still growing and could even see an uptick in sales growth in fiscal 2015 if the two new models are disruptive enough. And if Apple's history of product launches in new categories is any sign of how successful Apple's new wearable device will be, Apple stock's 16.5 price-to-earnings ratio today could prove to be considerably too conservative.
No wonder the stock is hitting all-time highs after the report. Shares are trading around $102.50. Pre split, that's $717.50. It was only recently that Apple investors longed for the days in 2012 when shares hit $700.
Of course, investors shouldn't expect shares to jump in the next few weeks just because new products are launched. The stock market is a forward-looking system, and the potential of Apple's product pipeline is already supposed to be priced in to the stock.
But Apple's "sticky" ecosystem-based moat, combined with the company's robust free cash flow, already merit a meaningful premium to earnings on their own. While it's impossible to predict what will happen in the near-term, the long view for Apple stock looks undeniably tasty -- even with the stock trading at all-time highs.
For investors looking for some numbers to justify exactly why Apple stock could still look conservatively priced at $102.50, consider this recent valuation of the stock. The stock's intrinsic value was pegged at $120 based on expectations for just 3% annual growth in free cash flow over the long haul. But Apple's hot pipeline could help the company stomp all over this paltry forecast of 3% growth in free cash flow in the next few years.
Two new iPhones + new wearable device + conservative valuation = enticing entry point for Apple investors.