Gene Munster thinks iPhone sales are going down.
In a note to clients on Monday, Piper Jaffray’s Munster — who has the second-highest price target on Apple shares among Wall Street analysts — cut his expectations for iPhone sales for the first and second quarter of 2016.
Munster now expects that in the first quarter of the year Apple will sell around 55 million iPhones, down about 10% from the same period last year and lower than Munster’s previous expectations for sales of 62.5 million phones.
In the second quarter of this year, Munster now sees iPhone sales of around 45 million, down 5% from last year and lower than a previous outlook for sales of 48.5 million phones.
Munster thus becomes the latest Apple analyst to admit that while iPhone sales will remain robust, the red-hot year-over-year growth seen for the device over the last several years is finally over.
At the heart of Munster’s downgraded expectations seem to be recent reports that orders in Apple’s supply chains have been cut and downbeat earnings guidance from some Apple suppliers in recent weeks.
Here’s Munster (emphasis ours):
“While Apple has repeatedly stated in the past that the changes in orders from any given supplier are not indicative of the health of the iPhone business overall, we believe that the combination of three supplier guidedowns (Dialog Semiconductor, Qorvo and Cirrus Logic) as well as the Nikkei story suggesting production cuts from last week are too much collective evidence to not adjust iPhone expectations.”
The most notable of these reports came from Nikkei, which said Apple is expected to cut iPhone production about 30% in the coming quarters.
As for Apple’s other financial metrics that are likely to be impacted in the first half of this year, Munster adds:
Overall, we continue to believe that the Street is expecting iPhones in Mar-16 around 50M units, which would be down 18% y/y. The net result of our estimate reduction means our Mar-16 revenue is now $55.8B from our prior $60.7B. Given our unit estimates and aforementioned revenue expectations, we believe Apple will guide Mar-16 revenue $54-56B. The Street currently expects $57.9B. We believe the Street Mar-16 revenue is higher than our number as Street iPhones are around 58M vs our 55M.
And so Munster is simply taking his view on Apple’s performance in the first half of this year and chopping it down.
Munster maintains a Buy rating and $179 price target on the stock. Shares of Apple closed at $98.53 on Monday. In pre-market trade shares were up about 1.7%.
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