- Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts recently visited Apple suppliers in Asia.
- The trip indicated the iPhone 8 may be delayed by three to four weeks.
- The analysts cut their estimates for iPhone shipments this year and expect short-term weakness in the stock.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch lowered its estimates for Apple's iPhone shipments by 11 million for the year, the latest Wall Street firm to expect launch delays.
"Our conversations with the Supply Chain suggest that the iPhone 8 will ship 3-4 weeks delayed given technological issues which Apple and its suppliers are working through," analysts Wamsi Mohan and Stefano Pascale said in a report Wednesday, citing a recent trip to Asia. The analysts maintained their buy rating on the stock.
The analysts said problems with finger print and 3-D sensors were to blame for the delay. Apple has not released a launch date for the smartphone but it typically releases the new iterations of the device in September. Mohan and Pascale believe that launch date could be delayed.
Apple declined to comment.
The BofAML analysts cut their expectations for September quarter shipments of iPhones by 11 million and the December quarter by 6 million. For fiscal year 2017, the analysts expect 11 million fewer shipments for 2017, down to 208.1 million.
They also believe this delay and weaker-than-expected earnings from Apple on Aug. 1 may hurt the stock and gave clients an options trade to benefit from the coming sell-off.
The estimate cut comes a day after Fast Company reported that Apple is rushing to try to fix software bugs affecting the next iPhone and there's a "sense of panic" among the team. It cited a source familiar with the matter.
RBC Capital Markets, Cowen, KGI and Drexel Hamilton have said in the last few months the iPhone announcement could be delayed to October or November.
Shares of the iPhone maker traded mildly lower Wednesday. The stock has surged 26 percent this year.
The BofAML analysts did raise their estimates for shipments in March 2018 by 10 million. They now expect iPhone shipments to rise to 243 million in 2018.
— CNBC's Todd Haselton and Michael Bloom contributed to this report.