Shares of Apple traded down as much 5.1 percent on Wednesday — their worst day in 2012.
And it’s still early yet, cautioned Eric Jackson, long-time Apple shareholder and founder of hedge fund Ironfire Capital, who thinks it’s very possible the stock will trade down to $500 this summer.
“I think it’s going to happen gradually, over the next four weeks or so, before the iPhone 5 comes out,” Jackson told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.” “People forget; this happened last October, when earnings were a disappointment. Shares dropped initially, then continued to drop over the next five weeks to about 7 percent below its pre-earnings announcement level.”
Apple did see a 16 percent drop in iPhone 4 sales before the iPhone 4 refresh. This fueled the company’s previous earnings miss (one of only two misses in nine quarters).
“The consumer has been a little bit conditioned to wait on these new phones, which will continue as long as Apple sticks to a schedule of fall release dates,” noted Jackson. “Last time it was one quarter before when people started pulling back. And now its even sooner.”
Other analysts are more concerned about competition. Samsung’s Galaxy IIIsmartphone has been well-received in China — which is Apple’s second largest iPhone market. And Siri, iPhone 4’s female voice-response feature, doesn’t speak Mandarin or Cantonese.
This doesn’t, however, worry Jackson because in the next iPhone, Siri will. Coincidentally, this is partly why has Jackson is bullish on Apple’s fourth-quarter sales. “I think Siri is going to be phenomenally successful in Mandarin and Cantonese,” he said.
On Wednesday, Jackson stuck by his long-term call ofa $1650 share price by the end of 2015.
“They’ve been doing 45 percent gross margins [the proportion of revenue the company can take as profit] for the past few quarters,” he said. “That is phenomenal, and really unprecedented for a hardware/software manufacturer. People used to bow down to Research In Motion for doing high 30s.”
While Jackson conceded that Apple’s margins “may contract overtime,” its shares have risen around 43 percent in the last 12 months — leaving most investors and analysts arguing more about when to get in the stock, rather than when to get out.
—By CNBC.com’s Jennifer Leigh Parker
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Eric Jackson personally owns Apple shares.
Follow Jennifer Leigh Parker on Twitter @jparker741.