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Apple needs new analysts that know how to cover its services business, Jim Cramer says

Lisa Micheal 3 Jul 31

CNBC's Jim Cramer on Wednesday suggested that firms should shuffle the analysts they have assigned to cover Apple.

The company needs a new cohort of researchers that will give more weight to its subscription service business than its iPhone sales, the "Mad Money" host said.

"People just don't understand how to evaluate the new Apple. They view it as a sagging hardware story," he said. "People keep underestimating Apple's new business model."

Apple deserves analysts that are focused on entertainment or consumer packaged goods, Cramer argued. Tech analysts, he said, that cover hardware and software companies "won't understand any of this."

On Tuesday, Apple reported a top- and bottom-line beat in its fiscal third-quarter. However, iPhone sales fell 12% year-over-year while its service revenue, which includes Apple Music and App Store fees, grew 13% in the same period. The company also recorded 50% growth in its wearables division, think Apple Watch and AirPods, while iPhone sales accounted for less than half of total revenue for the first time in about seven years.

The company has been shifting focus from hardware to services as the iPhone replacement cycle becomes lengthier and the subscription economy grows.

Apple's quarter performance was well received by Wall Street analysts, but declining iPhone revenue is a major cause of concern among the community, CNBC reported. The article notes Deutsche Bank analyst Jeriel Ong said: "we continue to have questions around the long-term growth of iPhones, we are remaining on the sidelines."

Coming off the quarter report, the host thought Apple deserved a string of price target increases and upgrades to buy fro hold.

"My theory is that these analysts are the same gang that cover the other FAANG stocks — Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Alphabet," he said. "Within FAANG, Apple is the slowest grower by far."

Cramer said Apple should begin revealing the number of subscribers it has so that analysts can build models to measure long customers are sticking around on a service.

"If the churn is low, you can figure out the lifetime value of a subscription ... It's a terrific annuity if you have low churn," he said. "A tech analyst who covers hardware or software companies won't understand any of this."

Shares of Apple climbed more than 2% during the session to close above $213.

"Until Apple gets this kind of duel coverage, I think the stock will remain ridiculously cheap," Cramer said. "But give it to an entertainment analyst or a consumer packaged goods analyst, and I'm betting the stock would catch fire."

Disclosure: Cramer's charitable trust owns shares of Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Alphabet.

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