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Goldman’s Apple Call Is Latest Example of Analyst Caution

Ryan Vlastelica
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Goldman’s Apple Call Is Latest Example of Analyst Caution

(Bloomberg) -- Goldman Sachs is growing concerned about Apple Inc., and it is not alone.

While shares of the iPhone maker have been stronger of late, the advance comes in contrast to a darker view toward the stock from analysts. Goldman is merely the latest example of growing caution as it cut its price target to one of the lowest on the Street.

The consensus rating for Apple -- a proxy for its ratio of buy, hold and sell ratings -- stands at 3.76 out of 5. According to Bloomberg data, that matches the lowest since the first half of 2004.

Shares of Apple fell as much as 2.7% on Friday, though it last traded down 1.9%. The stock has risen more than 13% off an August low and is less than 6% below its record close. While it slipped back under the threshold with Friday’s decline, its valuation returned above $1 trillion for this first in 2019 this week.

Goldman analyst Rod Hall cut his target to $165 from $187, warning of a “material negative impact” to the company’s earnings per share as a result of a plan to offer a trial period for its Apple TV+ service.

Apple responded to Goldman’s report in an email: “We do not expect the introduction of Apple TV+, including the accounting treatment for the service, to have a material impact on our financial results.”

Goldman’s new target is 26% below Apple’s Thursday close, and while Hall has a neutral rating on the stock, there are only a couple of firms with a target below Goldman’s, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The average target is about $219, matching the current share price.

In addition to Goldman, recent cautious calls have included New Street Research cutting its own price target earlier this week and warning of a “multi-year decline” in iPhone demand.

On Friday, Rosenblatt said it was seeing “weak” pre-orders for the latest version of the iPhone. The research firm has a Street-low price target of $150 on Apple stock, and it downgraded the shares in July. That brought the number of sell ratings to five, the highest number since at least 1997, according to historical data compiled by Bloomberg.

All five of the sell ratings have come this year. In January, the number of firms with buy ratings dropped below 50% for the first time since 2004.

(Adds Apple comment in sixth paragraph and Rosenblatt iPhone warning in eighth paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Ryan Vlastelica in New York at rvlastelica1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Catherine Larkin at clarkin4@bloomberg.net, Steven Fromm, Tatiana Darie

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