Apple Inc. (AAPL) fell to the lowest price in almost ten months after Steven Milunovich, an analyst at UBS AG, cut his price estimate to $700 from $780, citing concern that growth may slow for the iPhone and iPad.
Apple dropped 3.8 percent to $509.79 at the close in New York, its lowest since Feb. 17. Shares of Cupertino, California- based Apple have lost 27 percent since hitting an intraday record high of $705.07 on Sept. 21.
Based on checks with Apple’s suppliers, Milunovich said that the company is starting to curb production of the iPhone. In China, the newest model of the handset, the iPhone 5, may not sell as well the previous version did, he added. At the same time, the iPad mini may siphon sales of Apple’s largest tablet, compounding growth concerns, Milunovich said.
“Our previous growth estimates seem aggressive,” Milunovich said in a research report today. He reduced his earnings per share projection for fiscal 2013 to $47 from $51.50.
In another sign that growth is slowing, Apple component suppliers have received order cuts in the last 24 to 48 hours, Peter Misek, an analyst at Jefferies & Co. wrote in a research report today.
The cost of Apple options relative to other technology companies has risen to a four-year high, reflecting concern the iPhone and iPad maker’s dominance may be threatened by rivals such as Google Inc. and Nokia Oyj. (NOK1V)
Demand to hedge against losses in Apple shares has increased this year after Google made its first foray into the tablet market with its Nexus 7 device and Nokia rolled out new Lumia smartphone models to expand in Europe and Asia. The competition is hurting Apple’s earnings, with analysts predicting the slowest profit growth in a decade.
The share decline left Apple trading at a 22 percent discount to the Standard & Poors 500 Information Technology Sector Index on a price-to-earnings basis, compared with a premium in September, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Concern that orders from Apple may slow hurt the stocks of suppliers such as Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM), Broadcom Corp., Skyworks Solutions Inc. (SWKS), Avago Technologies Ltd. (AVGO) and Cirrus Logic Inc. (CRUS)
Qualcomm, based in San Diego, is the biggest maker of chips that connect phones to cellular networks. Qualcomm fell 4.7 percent to $59.83, its biggest one-day decline since April. Broadcom, which makes chips that provide other short-range wireless connections, fell 3.6 percent to $32.06.
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