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Apple Shares Weakens After Warning of Dull Holiday Quarter

Apple shares on Friday pared losses that were driven by its forecast for a subdued holiday quarter after a US jobs report bolstered hopes of a pause in interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.

The stock was down 1.5 percent in early trading, having fallen more than 3 percent before the bell. The world’s most valuable firm was on course to lose $40 billion (nearly Rs. 3,32,630 crore) in market value, if the losses hold.

The iPhone maker on Thursday forecast sales for the holiday quarter, usually its biggest, below Wall Street estimates, blaming weak demand for iPads and wearables.

The projection fanned fears about broader holiday demand, with estimates including those from the US National Retail Federation and Deloitte predicting the slowest rise in sales in the crucial shopping period in years due to sticky inflation.

“Apple’s revenue growth has stalled over the past few quarters — and appears likely to continue to stagnate over the next year,” said brokerage Bernstein, noting the holiday quarter usually sets the tone for Apple’s fiscal year that runs until September.

The stock, however, found some support after data showed that nonfarm payrolls rose less than expected in October, lifting shares across the board on expectations that the Fed could end its rate-tightening cycle.

At least 14 analysts cut their price targets on Apple, pushing down the median price target to $195, according to LSEG data. Apple currently trades at nearly 26 times its 12-month forward earnings estimates, among the lowest in the so-called “Magnificent Seven” stocks.

“We view management’s flat sales guidance as proof the company cannot rely on iPhone sales to drive shares higher, as it has in the past,” DA Davidson analyst Tom Forte said.

The iPhone, Apple’s main revenue generator, saw its sales rise in the September quarter and is also forecast to post an increase in the last three months of 2023.

CEO Tim Cook also insisted the iPhone 15 models were doing well in China, as he sought to allay Wall Street fears that Apple was losing market share to a resurgent Huawei and other local smartphone sellers. “In mainland China, we set a quarterly record for the September quarter for iPhone,” Cook told Reuters.

Several analysts cheered the remarks. “The Street will breathe a sigh of relief on this front,” Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives said.

© Thomson Reuters 2023


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