Biggest Apple bull says the launch of the more-affordable iPhone XR could be the ‘fuel’ Apple needs


The launch of the more-affordable iPhone XR will help Apple unlock China’s demand, Wall Street’s biggest Apple bull, Dan Ives, told CNBC on Friday.

And that’s key to driving the stock above $250 or $275, he said. Apple shares closed at $216.30 on Friday and are down almost 3 percent from a month ago.

“It’s all about China,” the managing director of equity research at Wedbush Securities said on “Power Lunch.” “We think this is sort of that fuel in the engine that Apple is looking for in terms of that demand.”

Ives has an outperform rating on the stock and a 12-month price target of $310, higher than any other analyst on the Street.

The iPhone XR, released on Friday, starts at $749, while the previously released XS and XS Max start at $999.

Ives said last year’s release of the iPhone X, which started at $999, was a real issue for the company’s China business.

“Last year was just a massive disappointment. I think what they realized is they went for the 4-digit phone, in terms of a thousand dollar price points, and that really backfired,” he said. “This is really a mea culpa. They realized what they needed to go after, and it’s really about China.”

He also said the company will sell a lot more higher-priced iPhones next year than expected.

In fact, Ives said the average selling price, or ASP, could be 15 to 20 percent higher than analyst expectations over the next few quarters.

“That ASP, combined with what we’re seeing on the XR, we think that could be the one-two punch to actually see not just strong earnings but very significant guidance for the December quarter.”

Apple will release its quarterly earnings next Thursday, but the iPhone XR sales won’t be reflected in the report. However, the XS line of phones went on sale at the end of last quarter.

— CNBC’s Tom Franck and Sara Salinas contributed to this report.