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What do Analysts Say about Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s AI Potential?

We recently compiled a list of the 15 Best Hardware Stocks According to Hedge Funds. In this article, we are going to take a look at where Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) stands against the other hardware stocks.

With the first half of 2024 nearly over, artificial intelligence continues to play a dominant role in the stock market. Stocks that either design semiconductors that are used for AI applications, or those that use them to either streamline their internal operations such as coding or offer products to customers have also made significant gains. These show the optimism in Wall Street for accelerated computing technologies, which are collectively called artificial intelligence.

In fact, the impact of AI has been so strong that not only has it upended the status quo of the most valuable firms in terms of market capitalization, but it also allowed some of the top AI companies to post triple digit percentage share price returns over the course of the past twelve months. Some of the top performing AI stocks are up by 213% over the past twelve months and have appreciated by 773% since November 2022. Back then, the stock market was whimpering in the aftermath of rapid interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, which had hit technology stocks particularly hard since they benefit from a fast growth and low rate environment.

However, AI's impact on the stock market has fueled the triple digit percentage gains in some stocks since then. At the same time, it has also meant that major indexes continue to demonstrate robust performance that is fueled by the share price performance of mega cap technology stocks.

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In 2024, the market has moved forward from investing in AI companies that can change the world with their hardware or software to evaluating whether these firms are delivering. The first quarter of the 2024 earnings season was the clearest example of this phenomenon, and it saw Wall Street take an unforgiving approach to large and small firms that presented even the slightest hint of being unable to either grow their revenues by targeting AI or control the costs of investing in the new technologies.

Within the AI industry, there are different categories of firms. Most of these, such as OpenAI, operate on the software side. This industry subsegment develops applications such as chat bots and other assistants along with expanding the use of AI to existing software such as image editing tools. AI hardware companies power these applications, and when compared to the software firms, not only do they command stable valuations, but they also see investors take comfort in the fact that the demand for their products is far more stable and predictable when compared to software demand. Recently Goldman Sachs published a bullish report on hardware stocks due to AI, which we covered in 15 Best Hardware Stocks According To Goldman. In this article we are going to approach the same theme from a different angle and there are vast differences between both rankings of hardware stocks.

Our Methodology

To make our list of the top hedge fund hardware stock picks, we ranked personal computing, semiconductor, and computer hardware by the number of hedge funds that had bought the shares in Q1 2024. Out of these, the stocks with the highest number of hedge fund investors were selected. Basically our article listed the best hardware stocks to buy according to the 900+ equity hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey. Why do we care about what hedge funds do? The reason is simple: our research has shown that we can outperform the market by imitating the top stock picks of the best hedge funds. Our quarterly newsletter’s strategy selects 14 small-cap and large-cap stocks every quarter and has returned 275% since May 2014, beating its benchmark by 150 percentage points (see more details here).

A wide view of an Apple store, showing the range of products the company offers.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)

Number of Hedge Fund Shareholders In Q1 2024: 150

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is the world's biggest consumer technology company. Despite its limited actions on the front, Apple has been seeing a lot of coverage for its potential AI initiatives. Most of these have covered its Siri virtual assistant, and some quarters expect an AI revamp for Siri. The average of 39 one year analyst share price targets for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)'s shares is $204.31 and the stock is rated Buy on average. Well known Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) analyst Gene Munster shared optimism for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)'s AI potential recently when he shared that the market was in "denial" about its AI potential. He was joined by Wedbush's Dan Ives, who believes that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)'s stock could jump by as much as $40 because of AI.

During Q1 2024, 150 hedge funds part of Insider Monkey's database were Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)'s stakeholders. Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway owned the most valuable stake which was worth $135 billion.

RiverPark Large Growth fund shared in its Q1 2024 investor letter that a strong installed user base is one of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)'s biggest strengths. According to the fund:

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL): Apple shares were a top detractor in the quarter. The company’s stock was pressured by negative news items including a government antitrust case, an Apple Watch patent dispute, and slowing China iPhone sales. Ultimately the company’s fiscal 1Q24 earnings report delivered a slightly better than expected quarter, but with guidance that disappointed investors. 1Q24 revenue and gross margin were better than feared, buoyed by stronger than expected worldwide iPhone sales which grew 6% despite a slight decline in China iPhone sales. Services revenue in the quarter was as expected and signaled the third quarter in a row of accelerating growth. Gross margins were also stronger than expected at 45.9%, the highest level in more than a decade. Guidance of $90 billion of revenue for 2Q24 was light however, due to weaker than expected iPhone sales in the current period and year-over-year declines in other hardware products facing difficult year-over year comps.

Although near-term trends are a bit muted, Apple is carrying lean inventory into an iPhone refresh cycle later this year. With an installed base of 2.2 billion active devices and significant growth of the company’s recurring revenue Services segment, we believe that Apple remains one of the most innovative, best positioned and most profitable companies in the mobile technology industry.

Overall AAPL ranks 2nd on our list of the best hardware stocks to buy. You can visit 15 Best Hardware Stocks According to Hedge Funds to see the other hardware stocks that are on hedge funds’ radar. While we acknowledge the potential of AAPL as an investment, our conviction lies in the belief that some AI stocks hold greater promise for delivering higher returns, and doing so within a shorter timeframe. If you are looking for an AI stock that is more promising than AAPL but that trades at less than 5 times its earnings, check out our report about the cheapest AI stock.

 

READ NEXT: Analyst Sees a New $25 Billion "Opportunity" for NVIDIA and Jim Cramer is Recommending These 10 Stocks in June.

 

Disclosure: None. This article is originally published at Insider Monkey.