Apple Inc. (AAPL) Stock Slips After Barclays Removes As Top Pick

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Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock declined today after Barclays analysts trimmed their price target and said they have removed the Top Pick designation from it. Analyst views on the company and the iPhone 7 are getting more varied every day, as some are convinced that a rebound in units is already underway while others say this isn’t the case, or at least not yet.

Barclays analysts say forecasting Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s destiny isn’t so simple, but some of their commentary seems to contradict news we heard from the iPhone maker’s supply chain in Taiwan.

Apple stock price target to $114

In a report dated September 29, analyst Mark Moskowitz reiterated his Overweight rating on Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock but trimmed his price target by $1 to $114 per share. He said until today, the company had held a Top Pick designation since he launched coverage on October 15, 2015. His bull case for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock now stands at $138 per share, while his bear case is at $91.

One of his concerns is for the smartphone industry as a whole and not just Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). Barclays analysts revised their smartphone revenue and unit growth forecasts lower and are now calling for a 2.9% decline in revenue and 2.6% increase in units. Previously, they had been expecting a decline of 0.7% in global smartphone revenue and a 3.7% increase in global units.

Concerns about Apple’s supply chain too

The global recovery they were expecting in the global smartphone industry has been pushed out. Moskowitz states that even though both Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung have released new phones recently, the market has not shown any significant improvements in beyond the initial channel fill for those launches.

He adds that their conversations with companies that are in Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s supply chain are only increasing their concern. He said those companies sound cautious and that the end of this year could be similar to the end of last year when there was a sharp drop-off in smartphone builds. He will be monitoring the situation to see if a repeat of last year occurs and if any larger challenges pop up, such as disruption caused by smaller smartphone vendors or additional lengthening of replacement cycles.

A contradiction from the supply chain?

This is particularly interesting in light of commentary from other firms suggesting that replacement cycles are actually shortening. Moskowitz’s commentary also doesn’t seem to mesh with what DigiTimes said on Wednesday. The Taiwan-based website reported that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) had upped component orders for the iPhone 7 lineup.

According to DigiTimes, orders for the iPhone 7’s touch panels are expected to be 20% to 30% higher than previously expected for the fourth quarter of this year. The website clarified that TPK Holding and General Interface Solution are both making touch panels for this year’s models, but Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) seems to have ordered more panels from GIS since the initial report about order numbers.

The Foxconn subsidiary’s revenues are also expected surge in the fourth quarter. DigiTimes’ sources peg iPhone 7 builds at 80 million to 84 million units in the second half of this year, although that’s a decline from the 85 million to 90 million iPhone 6s handsets that were shipped in the second half of last year.

Near-term choppiness expected for Apple stock

Moskowitz expects Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock to remain choppy in the near term. The shares were up 7% between September 1 and the release of his bearish note, and they outperformed the S&P 500, which was flat during that timeframe. He still likes Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s long-term story and believes the iPhone 8 next year will bring significant improvements, not only in features and innovation but also in sales.

He adds that for right now, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock might be overbought because the company’s fundamentals are not as strong as they once were. Shares of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) initially declined by more than 1%, falling as low as $112.20, although they bounced and are down 0.81% at $113.03 as of this writing.

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