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Is the thrill gone for Apple investors?

Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller speaks on stage during a Special Event at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium September 9, 2015 in San Francisco, California.
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Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller speaks on stage during a Special Event at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium September 9, 2015 in San Francisco, California.

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With Apple shares down 18 percent from a mid-July record high, the pressure was on its latest product event to turn around Wall Street's concern about the company's ability to come up with a blockbuster innovation that would combat slowing iPhone sales growth.

Normally after such events, analysts and fanboys are gushing with praise about the new product lines and iPhone upgrades. This time, even the most rabid Apple fans on Wall Street and in tech media were underwhelmed, with an unusual number of bearish comments trickling out overnight into Thursday morning.

Was Wednesday's launch the first real sign that Apple may be unable to come up with "the next big thing" and more importantly, what does that mean for the stock with the largest market value in the world?

Analysts weighed in to clients:

"Apple presentation falls flatter than new iPad," Pacific Crest's Andy Hargreaves wrote in a note to clients. "We continue to believe it is unlikely to drive the upgrade rates and share gains seen in the iPhone 6 cycle."

"Overall, more disappointment than positive surprises, but nothing game changing," wrote Macquarie's Ben Schachter.

Several leading Apple blogs agreed there weren't many surprises:

"Most of the announcements were in line with expectations," said Eric Slivka, editor-in-chief of MacRumors. "As for surprises, there were only a few, such as more storage for the Apple TV than was rumored and Live Photos for the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus."

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After years of watching Android competitors do well with the larger screen smartphone form factor, Apple launched the 5-inch display iPhone 6 last year and satisfied huge pent-up demand for a larger screen iOS device.

IPhone sales in the December quarter surged 57 percent year over year with units rising 46 percent on the year. This record-breaking success, however, sets up for a difficult comparison for the December 2015 quarter.

Wall Street tends to pay higher valuation multiples when growth accelerates, but the flip side is true as multiples tend to contract when growth slows down.

With the iPhone representing 65 percent of this year's estimated Apple revenue, details on the features of the new iPhone are critical to get investors more comfortable about future growth issues.

Unfortunately Apple's iPhone 6S/S Plus features failed to impress as many analysts and their morning notes to clients continued to worry about the potential of a iPhone slowdown in the December quarter and even the prospect of negative iPhone year-over-year sales.

"(IPhone) 6S/6S+ will be the first iPhone generation to decline year-over-year making Apple more reliant on price-reduced old model to growth units. ... It is hard to see upside to overall iPhone units for the fourth quarter of 2015 or the first quarter of 2016 as they are unlikely to (see) growth year-over-year," wrote Cowen's Timothy Arcuri.

"The product announcements were largely in line with speculation and did not seem like they can drive meaningful revenue growth. ... We remain concerned about tough iPhone compares for the next few quarters," said Mizuho's Abhey Lamba.

"The stock will have trouble getting past the tough iPhone comp issue," said Macquarie's Ben Schachter.

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The main issue now for Apple investors is with the lack of significant innovation in this year's products the shares lack positive fundamental catalysts, especially if growth disappoints in the next two quarters.

Due to Apple's below-market valuation of 11.5 times next year's earnings and large cash position of over $200 billion, the most likely outcome may be continued sideways movement as the company gets past the difficult compares.

To be sure, all isn't lost as this year's lack of innovation may be a setup for a better product cycle next year. The most connected Apple media insider who is renowned for getting the best Apple product detail leaks said this:

"I think the big picture with yesterday's event is how all of the new products fit together in the family and how they set up Apple for the future. For instance, the new Apple TV opens up the door for the future streaming service, while the new iPhone technologies hint at more capable, yet smaller, designs in the future," Mark Gurman of 9to5Mac said in an email to CNBC Pro.

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—CNBC's Michael Bloom contributed to this story.

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