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Citi cuts first-quarter iPhone production estimates on weak demand

Key Points
  • Citi Research on Friday slashed its first-quarter production estimates for Apple iPhones and nearly halved expectations on the costliest iPhone XS Max.
  • Citi said it expects the company to make 45 million iPhones for the quarter, down from 50 million it forecast earlier.
A man holds the Apple iPhone XS and XS Max during a product demonstration following the Apple launch event at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California, September 12, 2018.
Stephen Lam | Reuters

Citi Research on Friday slashed its first-quarter production estimates for Apple iPhones and nearly halved expectations on the costliest iPhone XS Max, joining other brokerages in lowering forecast amid reports of weak demand.

"The material cut in our forecasts is driven by our view that 2018 iPhone is entering a destocking phase, which does not bode well for the supply chain," analyst William Yang wrote in a client note.

Citi said it expects the company to make 45 million iPhones for the quarter, down from 50 million it forecast earlier. The cut was mainly due to weak outlook for the iPhone XS Max, analyst William Yang said in a research note.

The brokerage lowered its forecast for the iPhone XS Max, which starts at $1,099, by 48 percent.

According to a Wall Street Journal report in November, Apple cut production orders for all three iPhone models launched in September.

Shares in Apple's Asian suppliers and assemblers slid in November after several component makers forecast weaker-than-expected sales, leading some market watchers to call the peak for iPhones in several key markets.

The brokerage that has "sell" ratings on iPhone assemblers Hon Hai Precision Industry and Foxconn Technology, said it sees Hon Hai as particularly vulnerable, with higher exposure to the new models.

In early December, TF International Securities analyst cut first-quarter iPhone shipment estimate by 20 percent.

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Apple shares could slide 25 percent in 2019, strategist says

Key Points
  • Despite the analyst's bearish outlook, Apple watchers more generally are still overwhelmingly bullish. According to Reuters, Apple currently has 13 "strong buy" ratings from analysts, 10 "buy" and 20 "hold" ratings, with no "sell" or "strong sell" ratings.
  • These analysts have an average target price of $215 a share. The stock currently trades at $157 and Smithers' prediction would see it fall to 117.75 — a price it hasn't seen since early 2017.