According to a report by AppleInsider, Wells Fargo Securities analyst Maynard Um has noted that Apple has increased its carrier partners count by 15.4% over the last 7 months, bringing its current worldwide total to 323, up from 316 partners in mid-April, and 280 carriers in last October.
The analyst, who has also increased his “valuation” range for Apple stock (AAPL) from $595 to $640, has been bearish on Apple in recent months, with his previous valuation range topping out at $585, even while shares of AAPL had been trading at well over $600 for the past many weeks. In fact, as of premarket trading on Friday, Apple was already at nearly $640 per share.
According to Um, Apple’s partnerships in the wireless industry were fairly stable in 2011 and 2012. Since then, Apple has become aggressive in adding more carriers — a move that likely helped boost surprisingly strong international iPhone sales last quarter. “Assuming these carriers also get the new iPhone at launch, this could help year over year unit sell-in numbers,” Um wrote.
Um has however maintained his “market perform” rating on AAPL stock, noting that Apple will ultimately need to choose between average selling price and margins versus unit sales and market share.