“We flagged this risk,” says analyst Rod Hall after Asian supply chain reports take Apple down.
From a note to clients that landed on my desktop early Tuesday:
We flagged this risk in our October 15th Apple preview here due to rapid smartphone demand deterioration in China. This now seems to be playing out but there are a few additional twists that we see as important. In addition to weakness in demand for Apple’s products in China and other emerging markets it also looks like the balance of price and features in the iPhone XR may not have been well-received by users outside of the US.
Historically, a disproportionately large chunk of December quarter demand tends to come in the two-week period beginning a week before Christmas day so it is possible that things change though we do not believe this is likely.
Our estimates remain at the lower end of Apple’s guidance range at this point as we believe the company likely included this more negative scenario in its provided range. However, we do see material risk to March quarter guidance if current demand trends continue to play out.
Maintains Neutral, cuts price target to $182 from $209.
My take: Was it only two months ago that Hall ate his hat and raised his price target to $240 from $200?
We also take this opportunity to eat our hat somewhat on our cautious stance this Summer and raise our 12-month price target to $240. We had expected worse iPhone X demand and some pullback in the stock – clearly neither of these two things happened. Given the limited upside from here to our new price target we stick with a Neutral rating but Apple is once again proving itself tough to bet against.