Apple (AAPL) received a sharp cut to its price target from BMO Capital Markets late Wednesday after the consumer-technology company reduced its fiscal Q1 revenue guidance, citing greater-than-expected economic weakness in some emerging markets and fewer iPhone upgrades than it anticipated.
BMO’s new price target on the stock is $153 per share, down from $213. The shares closed Wednesday’s session at $157.92 before falling 8.9% in Thursday’s pre-market session to $143.93. BMO kept its investment rating on the shares at market perform.
The price-target cut came as BMO lowered its estimates for Apple’s fiscal 2019 and 2020 revenue and earnings per share to reflect the revenue warning.
After Wednesday’s market close, Apple said for its fiscal Q1 ended Dec. 29, it now expects revenue of about $84 billion, down from the guidance it gave in early November for revenue between $89 billion and $93 billion. Just before the late-Wednesday guidance cut, analysts’ mean estimate according to Capital IQ was at $91.37 billion.
In a note to clients, BMO said “we have been cautious surrounding the newly launched iPhone’s ability to drive an upgrade cycle, particularly in China, and December quarter results are worse than we would have expected.” The firm added: “We remain market perform on the shares and look for stability in the iPhone business before becoming positive.”
And while Apple noted its Q1 revenue excluding the iPhone was up 19% year over year, which BMO said surpassed its expectations, the firm added “we do not believe these businesses are big enough to offset the negative iPhone sentiment.”
Looking beyond the latest quarter, BMO warned that “a less-compelling new lineup that is priced well above competitive products, coupled with trade tensions, will probably mean more tough quarters ahead for the China business.”
In issuing its late-Wednesday warning, Apple said when it first gave the guidance, it knew the different timing of its iPhone launches would make for “difficult” year-over-year comparisons, knew the strong US dollar would create foreign-exchange headwinds, and knew it had “an unprecedented number of new products to ramp during the quarter and predicted that supply constraints would gate [its] sales of certain products during Q1.” These factors played out broadly in line with its expectations, Apple said.
However, the company added, economic weakness in some emerging markets “turned out to have a significantly greater impact than we had projected,” adding that “these and other factors resulted in fewer iPhone upgrades than we had anticipated.” Those two points led to the reduced revenue guidance, Apple said.
The company said most of its revenue shortfall to the guidance and more than 100% of its year-over-year worldwide revenue decline occurred in Greater China across the iPhone, Mac and iPad. It added: “Lower-than-anticipated iPhone revenue, primarily in Greater China, accounts for all of our revenue shortfall to our guidance and for much more than our entire year-over-year revenue decline.”