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Apple Shares: More Analyst Downgrades Take a Bite Out

This article was originally published on ETFTrends.com.

It's been a case of kick Apple shares while they're down as more analyst downgrades hurt the stock on Wednesday when Guggenheim Partners lowered its rating on the tech giant from "buy" to "neutral," citing that a 5% decline in iPhone units will occur in 2019.

Guggenheim forecasted that a subsequent increase in prices would do little in terms of offsetting a decline in sales. In addition, the firm posited that overall demand for iPhones globally would wane.

"Unlike last year (we) do not see ASP (average selling price) increases providing enough offset, with our forecast that blended iPhone ASPs increase only +3%Y/Y, leaving iPhone revenues -2%Y/Y," said Guggenheim's Robert Cihra. "Moreover, we see growing risk of even softer iPhone unit demand, with downside in China, India and other emerging markets, where Apple may need to start considering lower price points.".

Shares of Apple fell on Wednesday by 1.5% as of 11:00 a.m. ET. Shares of Apple were already hit on Monday when news that Lumentum Holdings, the company responsible for the iPhone’s face-recognition technology, reduced its outlook for fiscal second quarter 2019, causing both its shares and Apple shares to slide.

Apple declined over 4% while Lumentum shares sank a record 30%. Lumentum's reduced outlook came as one of its largest customers was asked to “meaningfully reduce shipments” for previous orders placed.

"We recently received a request from one of our largest Industrial and Consumer customers for laser diodes for 3D sensing to materially reduce shipments to them during our fiscal second quarter for previously placed orders that were originally scheduled for delivery during the quarter," Lumentum President and CEO Alan Lowe said.
While Lumentum didn't cite Apple specifically, analysts are quick to point at the iPhone maker.

“We think investors should consider Lumentum’s updated guide as reflecting as much as a 30% cut in Apple orders,” said Wells Fargo analyst Aaron Rakers.

The latest downgrade didn't hurt exchange-traded funds (ETFs) with the largest capital Apple allocations-- Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK) --up 0.24%, Vanguard Information Technology ETF (VGT) --up 0.43% and iShares US Technology ETF (IYW) --up 0.27%.

Multinational investment firm UBS cut its 12-month price target of Apple by $15 to $225 and lowered its iPhone unit sales forecasts for the current quarter by 1.5 million to 73.5 million.

"We note these cuts are significantly less than the LITE news would imply," said Tim Arcuri of UBS in his note. "Ultimately, we believe AAPL continues to face FX headwinds given ongoing [U.S. dollar] appreciation against key global currencies. In China, given [the dollar-yuan trade], the supply chain suggests many consumers are opting for high-end models w/similar specs from local competitors rather than the XR."

Rosenblatt Securities, BofA Downgrade Apple

Despite beating earnings and revenue expectations for its fourth fiscal quarter, murky forecasts for iPhone sales caused investment firm Rosenblatt Securities to downgrade the stock recently. Rosenblatt Securities was the second firm to issue a downgrade, changed their rating from "buy" to "neutral," citing that higher iPhone prices won't offset a weaker sales volume.

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Bank of America Merrill Lynch issued a similar downgrade following the earnings report for "slower growth in app store revenue, especially in China; guidance for the December quarter that implies weaker-than-expected iPhone unit sale; investors will likely interpret ending iPhone unit sales figures as negative; and weaker growth in emerging markets because of the stronger dollar."

"Calendar fourth-quarter guidance reflects our cautious view on weaker than expected sell-through and production reductions for iPhone XS/XR," said analyst Jun Zhang. We "downgrade to neutral."

Apple reported that it posted a quarterly revenue of $62.9 billion, which represented a 20% jump from the same time a year ago, as well as, a quarterly earnings per diluted share of $2.91--a rise of 41%.

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