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Apple’s Stock Price Has a Growing Problem: Analysts

Apple has an analyst problem. And it's starting to be a real drag on its stock price.

On Monday, Rosenblatt Securities analyst Jun Zhang downgraded Apple's stock from a neutral rating to a sell. He maintained the $150 twelve-month stock price target he had previously set.

Apple's stock had closed Friday at $204.23.

Zhang stopped short of saying that Apple's problems are with its iPhone and Mac sales. After all, the company still generates billions of dollars in quarterly profit. He is concerned, however, that Apple's recent share price gains (the stock is up from the $150 it was trading at in January) leave little room for additional upside.

"We believe there is less reward for owning Apple stock after the recent stock rebound from stock buybacks and stable second quarter guidance," Zhang told investors in a note. "We believe Apple will face fundamental deterioration over the next 6-12 months."

Zhang has joined a growing chorus of analysts who are concerned about Apple's share price. According to data from analyst-tracking site TipRanks, Zhang is the fourth analyst to currently have a sell rating on Apple’s stock. Meanwhile, Bloomberg's said on Monday that five analysts have sell ratings.

One of those analysts, New Street Research's Pierre Ferragu, downgraded Apple's shares last year over concerns that consumers will eventually stop upgrading their iPhones as often. As a result, iPhone purchases will tail off starting this year, Ferragu said.

Earlier this year, HSBC analyst Erwan Rambourg downgraded Apple's shares to "reduce" over concerns that Apple won't provide a compelling-enough streaming video alternative to Netflix. Earlier this year, Apple announced Apple TV+, a streaming video service that will feature several original series and that is expected to debut in the fall.

“We believe Apple has come too late to the game and its offerings, by and large do not differ much or are below par to offerings from competition,” the Rambourg said.

Analysts often play an important role in persuading investors about buying or selling shares. While analysts don't necessarily have inside information about what's happening in a company, they study a company's financial performance and interview people in its supply chain. When they downgrade stocks, in many cases, share prices decline.

That happened on Monday. Apple's shares fell 2.4% in mid-day trading to $199.37.

Zhang's report may have spooked investors who are worried that Apple's shares have hit their peak. But he also said in the report that the iPhone XS Apple released last year is "one of the worst-selling iPhone models" ever and that sales of it have been flat over the past month. Like Ferragu, he's also concerned about consumers not upgrading to new iPhones anytime soon.

"With limited upgrades for the new iPhone models in the fall and expectations of a 5G iPhone in 2020, we expect major iPhone upgrades to be pushed out to the second half of 2020," Zhang told investors.

But not every analyst is so bearish on Apple's stock.

There are 36 analysts with ratings on Apple's stock, according to TipRanks. And more than half of them—19—have buy ratings on the company's shares. Another 14 say current shareholders should hold the stock.

So, while many investors are concerned by what Zhang said, most other analysts don't share the same opinion. In fact, on average, analysts say Apple's stock price will rise in the next 12 months to $213.45.

In his own note to investors on Sunday, Wedbush analyst Dan Ives signaled some of that confidence. He told investors that he's "bullish" on Apple well into the next fiscal year "and beyond" and maintained his outperform rating on the stock.

Ives, in stark contrast to Zhang's $150 price target, said Apple's shares may rise to $235 in the next 12 months.

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