Apple, analysts downgrade: iPhone 15 sells less than expected

Barclays highlighted “disappointing” sales of the iPhone 15, particularly in China, and predicted a similar result for the iPhone 16

Apple, one of the world’s most famous tech giants, has recently suffered a series of downgrades from financial analysts, including Barclays and Piper Sandler. These downgrades have raised questions about the company’s future outlook and its ability to maintain its industry leadership. Barclays, in particular, slightly reduced its price target for Apple shares from $161 to $160. Barclays analyst Tim Long highlighted the “disappointing” sales of the iPhone 15, particularly in China, and predicted a similar outcome for the iPhone 16. This prediction was not well received by investors, leading to a stock drop of 4% in a single day. Piper Sandler & Co., in turn, lowered its rating on Apple, citing a weak macroeconomic environment in China that is expected to negatively impact iPhone demand. This downgrade is particularly significant, as analyst Harsh Kumar had maintained an optimistic view on Apple since March 2020.

Entering 2024, Apple was the only tech giant to see revenue contraction for four consecutive quarters. Concerns about iPhone demand in China have emerged since October, when there were controversies over the Chinese government’s alleged informal imposition of banning state employees from using iPhones, and the company appears to be facing significant challenges in the Chinese market. Another point of concern for Apple is the growth of its services, which until recently looked promising. However, according to Barclays, services growth may decelerate: Despite high margins in the services sector, Barclays is not convinced that this growth is sustainable in the long term. Furthermore, Barclays also underlined that Apple’s future could be influenced by investigations into the app store monopoly, which could intensify in the coming years.

After rising 50% in the previous year, Apple stock fell 5.2% in early 2024, losing more than $155 billion in market value. At a time when most big tech companies are receiving optimistic forecasts from Wall Street, Apple appears to be the exception. While Amazon, Meta Platforms (formerly Facebook) and Nvidia continue to enjoy strong support from analysts, Apple is experiencing a period of uncertainty. The key question now is whether Apple will be able to meet these challenges and demonstrate to investors and analysts that it can resume its growth.