5 tough questions for Apple CEO Tim Cook

Just in time for Tuesday's earnings call.

With a "hold" rating on the stock and lowest price target ($115) on Wall Street, BGC analyst Colin Gillis is hardly an Apple bull.

But he dismisses the obsession among fellow analysts about a possible decline in iPhone sales as "so much gnashing of teeth" and thinks their concerns may already be priced into the stock. That's because he has bigger fish to fry.

"The big issue for Apple," he wrote in a note to clients Monday, "is not whether Apple ships 57 or 60 million iPhones in the March quarter, it’s the following:

  1. "Where is Apple’s video streaming content strategy?" [It's been nearly a year since we first read that the arrival of Apple's streaming TV service was imminent.]
  2. "Does Apple have any interest in changing the fact they only have two apps ranked in the comScore top 15, and Google has six?" [The two apps that made the cut were Apple Music and Apple Maps.]
  3. "How does Apple plan, if at all, to move up the stack in Apple Pay and capture more of the economics?" [i.e., take advantage of all the data it can collect about consumer buying habits.]
  4. "Why did iAd fall so flat?" [Apple announced in January that it's shutting down its iAp app network as of June 30.]
  5. "How are efforts to turn the phone pricing into a subscription model?" [Exactly how many customers are opting for Apple's iPhone Upgrade Program?]

Unless Apple develops a "sense of urgency" about transforming itself into a service company—one that builds up serious recurring revenues—the market, Gillis says, will continue to value it as a hardware company. Which is apparently a bad thing.

Apple's share price ($aapl) has been chewed up by the aforementioned gnashing of teeth and at Monday's close ($99.44) was trading 26% below its all time high.

Gillis tops Monday's note with one of his tart haikus:

There is a reason,
Apple trades
at a discount,
to the broad market.

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