Malcolm Graham
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Apple’s stock sinks on concern about slowing growth

Credit Suisse lowers its earnings estimates, while investment manager Doug Kass reiterates his short position

Shares of Apple Inc. sank 3.2% on Tuesday after Credit Suisse lowered its earnings estimates on the iPhone maker.

And Doug Kass, president of money manager Seabreeze Partners Management, reminded investors that Apple AAPL, -0.57% is facing slowing earnings and revenue growth in an article in which he said he’s maintaining his short position, wagering on a drop in the stock.

Credit Suisse analyst Kulbinder Garcha cut his fiscal 2016 earnings per share estimate for Apple by 6% to $9.54, saying “iPhone supply-chain orders have weakened recently,” and that the company “has lowered its component orders by as much as 10%, according to our teams in Asia.”

Apple’s stock fell to as low as $116.07 on the New York Stock Exchange before closing at $116.77.

I have written several articles on Apple expressing a bullish long-term viewbecause the company continues to generate strong sales and earnings growth, and because the stock is cheap. The stock trade for 11.9 times the consensus 2016 earnings estimate of $9.78, among analysts polled by FactSet. The S&P 500 Index’s SPX, -0.32% forward price-to-earnings ratio is 16.4.

Apple’s EPS for the most recent quarter rose 38% from a year earlier to $1.38. Analysts expect the S&P 500 to show a 1.6% decline in third-quarter earnings, although if the suffering energy sector were excluded, the estimate for the index would change to a 6.4% increase.


Apple’s shares have returned 7.6% this year, with dividends reinvested, compared with 2.8% for the S&P 500. But over the past three years, Apple has trailed the index slightly.

So Apple’s shares look cheap by a conventional measure.

Still, Garcha said weakness in demand for the iPhone 6s is a bad sign. “... [O]verall builds are now estimated to be below 80 million units for the December quarter and between 45-50 million units for the March quarter.”

Garcha left unchanged his “outperform” rating and $140 price target for Apple’s stock.

Kass, a well-known contrarian investor who writes frequently for RealMoneyPro, balked at Garcha’s assessment that “... the continued weak supply chain news could weigh on Apple shares for the next few weeks/quarters.”

In a short article on Tuesday on RealMoneyPro’s premium site, Kass said that last quote from Garcha was “among the dumbest that I’ve read in some time from the sell side.”