Goldman Sachs cuts price target on Apple

Goldman Sachs slashes price target on Apple
Goldman Sachs slashes price target on Apple

Investment bank Goldman Sachs cut its price target on Apple Thursday to reflect lower growth expectations for the smartphone industry.

This follows a recent reduction of the bank's global smartphone unit growth forecast for 2016 to 5 percent from 6 percent, and to 4 percent from 7 percent for next year.

The bank has trimmed its price target to $124 from $136, maintaining a "buy" rating. The technology giant's stock finished at $98.46 on Thursday evening. Goldman also trimmed predicted iPhone unit sales to 211 million from 212 million for the whole of 2016.

"We also fine-tune our iPhone forecasts by introducing a detailed regional build, updating our installed base model, and adding an inventory overlay. Even with these assumptions, which we view as conservative, our model implies upside to consensus estimates, and we maintain our 'buy' rating," the investment bank said in a research note released on Thursday morning

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The bank further said that the reductions were driven by lower market growth, as well as lower average selling prices on a greater shift from developed to emerging markets. It expects this to drive more sales for the new lower-priced iPhone SE, relative to the higher-priced iPhone 7.

On a brighter note for Apple, Goldman said the consensus on full year 2017 sales is too low as pent up demand will likely coincide with iPhone 7 upgrades. The bank points to the demand environment in China as the most significant risk, followed by other risks such as product cycle execution, competition, foreign exchange fluctuations and the pace of innovation.

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"We continue to view consensus estimates for (full year 2017) as too low, as we expect an increase in upgrades with the iPhone 7 based on the pent-up demand evident in our recent U.S. consumer survey, combined with our estimate of 26 percent year-on-year growth in the iPhone installed base as of September 2016."

Apple has had a tough year after it reported weaker-than-expected earnings in April. The company highlighted a drop in its iPhone sales by 16 percent year-on-year. Even more troubling for Apple was the 26 percent fall in revenues from China, a country that was once a key driver of growth. The company beat Wall Street's estimates on iPhone shipments, reporting 51.19 million for the quarter. Analysts had expected 50.3 million, according to StreetAccount.

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"It is going to move into the cash cow territory. Where is the new blockbuster? It is very hard to see. Apple TV, watches? A different kind of growth profile and nowhere near what you had before," Peter Toogood, investment director at City Financial Investment Company, told CNBC on Thursday.

Apple's shares plunged more than 8 percent after the results were announced in April, erasing more than $46 billion in market cap. The company's shares are down over 5 percent year-to-date and over 6 percent lower in the last twelve months.

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