By Emily Bary
Talk of an Apple Car is ‘catalyzing a shift in investor narrative back toward the attractiveness of the platform,’ analyst says
A hypothetical Apple Inc.-designed car may be years away, but it could already be helping the company’s stock, in the view of one analyst.
“We see the prospects of Apple Car–representing the clearest path to doubling Apple’s revenue and market cap–catalyzing a shift in investor narrative back toward the attractiveness of the platform (1 billion loyal customers) and long-term sustainable growth,” wrote Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty in a Friday note to clients.
Simply put, “investors should pay attention to Apple Car,” Huberty wrote.
Her comments come after a Bloomberg News article Thursday highlighted a series of developments around the consumer electronics company’s plans for an electric vehicle. Apple reportedly has sped up its launch targets as it now aims to introduce a car in four years. It also aspires to deliver a model that boasts full self-driving capabilities, according to Bloomberg.
Apple didn’t respond to MarketWatch’s request for comment Thursday about its electric-vehicle plans.
See more: Apple reportedly revving up electric-vehicle plans — ‘a matter of when, not if’
Apple’s stock (AAPL) rallied 1.5% into record territory in afternoon trading Friday. The stock has run up 8.4% amid a six-day winning streak.
Apple could drive dynamics in the world of autonomous vehicles (AVs) similar to what it did in other markets, in Huberty’s view. The company wasn’t first to launch a smartphone, but its focus on building an attractive software ecosystem helped the company skate past established players.
“Evidence shows that when Apple enters new markets, it serves as a catalyst to expand the addressable market beyond what was previously imagined,” Huberty wrote, meaning that she thinks “Apple is likely to accelerate adoption of AVs.”
Huberty admits that Apple “will need to add new partners, source new components, and invest in new technologies internally” if it wants to get into the business of developing cars, but she sounded upbeat about the company’s ability to manage this shift while leveraging its existing capabilities.
“[M]uch of the brains and power of a self-driving car–including processors, sensors, [and] batteries–are already designed by Apple today,” she wrote, making the company “well positioned to solve complex technology, safety, performance, and manufacturing challenges of a self-driving car and to scale production faster than others targeting the same market.”
Read: How Apple’s buyback party could continue for 15 more years
An Apple Car could also bring a twist on the traditional idea of car ownership and mobility, according to Huberty, who thinks the company could sell the car “as a service.”
Her colleague Adam Jonas, who covers Tesla Inc. (TSLA), seemed to expand further in a note discussing the potential automotive-industry implications of an eventual Apple entry into the car market.
“To be clear, we do not believe consumers will own title to a fully autonomous car… but will engage in the service as a subscription or transport utility,” Jonas wrote.
Bloomberg reported that Apple envisions putting out a car without a pedal or steering wheel. Such a vehicle “must be a ‘shared service’ and not an ‘owned car,'” in Jonas’s view.
Apple’s stock has run up 20.8% year to date, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average has advanced 16.5%.
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