The short interest in Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) shares fell by 8.5 million to 39.6 million, a drop of 18% for the period that ended September 15. The activity happened as Apple launched the new iPhone 8 and iPhone X, and ahead of a sharp slide in Apple shares.
Despite general enthusiasm at the launch of Apple’s new smartphone, more recently analysts have become concerned about iPhone sales for the balance of the year. According to a report in Barron’s:
The Street continues to mull the prospects of a further delay in production of Apple’s iPhone X, with the folks at Bluefin writing that they see no signs of delay yet, but Chris Caso with Raymond James reiterating his view there is an “incremental delay,” and his colleague Tavis McCourt backing him up, and concluding that there “will be no supercycle” with this year’s iPhone.
A delay may be bad for earnings in calendar 2017, but a bump in 2018. The main concern, however, is that there will be a short supply during the critical holiday season, which traditionally makes for a surge in Apple’s quarter that covers the final three months of the year.
Another worry about the iPhone is that consumers will wait to see the iPhone X, which will launch well after the iPhone 8. This could represent another factor that would bump sales well into the fourth quarter. Observers wonder whether Apple should have launched two major versions of the iPhone at once. According to Forbes:
In the week since the reviews of the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus started to come out, the growing sentiment from reviewers and analysts is that the iPhone 8 family, while not being ‘dead’, has not delivered the first weekend sales, visible queues, or online passion that has been the signature of every September iPhone launch for pretty much the last decade. The assumption is that those looking to update their iPhones in this cycle are switched on enough to wait for the iPhone X.
Short sellers who moved out of Apple’s shares may have done so too soon. Worries about the new phone have dropped Apple’s share price 5% in the past month.