Citi Cuts Apple’s Rating in Light of Low Expectations for iPhone 5

Sales of iPhone 5 Not Gangbusters

Financial services company Citi has downgraded Apple’s rating from ‘buy’ to ‘neutral’ and lowered their price target to $575 due to their expectation that iPhone 5 sales will not be strong enough to prop up the stock.

Citi’s Apple analysts, Glen Yeung, Walter Pritchard and Jim Suva originally rated Apple ‘buy’ when they thought iPhone 5 sales would be impressive. UBS and Jefferies financial analysts also cut their price targets for Apple last week, but maintained the rating of ‘buy’ for the popular technology company.

Reports from Asian supply chains say that Apple has reduced their orders for the iPhone for 2013’s first quarter. It is logical that supply should be reduced after the holiday season somewhat, but Apple is cutting their production more than expected.

According to Citi, “Our checks suggest Apple has seen a 45-50% increase in monthly iPhone 5 production output October to December.” Since this improvement exceeded expectations it is not surprising that Apple is cutting orders for the beginning of the year.

It comes down to analysts at Citi believing that if iPhone 5 demand was high then Apple would continue to manufacture them at full-speed ahead. Since that is not the case and Apple is cutting production this signals to Citi that demand is only ‘good,’ and not ‘great,’ which is what Apple would need to get a ranking of ‘buy’ from Citi.

James Cannon

About James Cannon

James Cannon is an experienced hedge fund analyst. He has served on the advisory boards for various different Fortune 500 companies as well as serving as an adjunct professor of finance. James Cannon has written for a variety of Financial Magazines both on and off line. Contact James at james[at]businessdistrict.com