Apple’s shares experienced a decline in early trading on Friday, driven by the company’s forecast for a muted holiday quarter. The stock initially fell more than 3 per cent before the bell but later pared losses, with the company bracing for a potential $40 billion loss in market value.
The downturn came after Apple, the world’s most valuable firm, predicted lower-than-expected sales for its usually robust holiday quarter, citing weak demand for iPads and wearables.
The forecast heightened concerns about overall demand during the holiday season, with various predictions indicating the slowest growth in years due to persistent inflation. Analysts, including brokerage Bernstein, noted that Apple’s revenue growth had stalled in recent quarters and might stagnate into the next year.
Recovery Fueled by US Jobs Data
However, Apple’s stock found some support after releasing the October nonfarm payroll data, which showed less growth than anticipated. This outcome buoyed shares, raising expectations that the Federal Reserve might pause its interest rate hikes.
In response to Apple’s outlook, at least 14 analysts reduced their price targets on the company, setting a new median price target of $195. Despite this, Apple still trades at nearly 26 times its 12-month forward earnings estimates, one of the lowest ratios among the “Magnificent Seven” stocks.
Apple’s Strategy and Market Outlook
DA Davidson analyst Tom Forte remarked that management’s flat sales guidance indicated Apple could no longer depend solely on iPhone sales to drive its stock. However, the iPhone, Apple’s primary revenue source, did see a rise in sales in the September quarter and is expected to increase again in the last quarter of 2023.
CEO Tim Cook also addressed concerns about Apple’s market share in China, particularly against competitors like Huawei. He highlighted the success of the iPhone 15 models in the region, mentioning a record-setting quarter in mainland China. Analysts, such as Wedbush Securities’ Dan Ives, welcomed Cook’s comments, which provided some reassurance to Wall Street.