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Apple Stock: Slowing iPhone Demand Or Strong Quarter Ahead?

Following evidence that Apple would have a strong holiday quarter of sales, Apple stock dipped on reports of slowing demand for the iPhone. Here is how investors should approach this conundrum.

Apple stock  (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report investors have been scratching their heads. After shares endured the recent volatility in the stock market with flying colors, AAPL dipped on a day when the S&P 500 climbed strongly. The culprit: a Bloomberg report suggesting that iPhone demand could slow down through the rest of the holiday season.

Afterall, will Apple’s 2021 shopping season be strong, as many analysts have suggested recently? Or will the supply chain crisis cause the iPhone segment to hiccup? And what should investors do about it?

Figure 1: Apple's new iPhone 13 model.

Figure 1: Apple's new iPhone 13 model.

(Read more from the Apple Maven: Wall Street Expert Says: Apple Stock Will Reach $3.2 Trillion)

iPhone 13: conflicting information

According to Bloomberg, Apple has communicated to its parts suppliers that demand for the iPhone 13 is expected to cool off. The device’s production target has allegedly been cut by around 10% from an initial goal of 90 million, and even this reduced figure may now be at risk.

The problem is the supply chain crisis that has increased lead times on the smartphone, causing more impatient consumers to postpone or even give up on their purchases for the holiday season. This is in line with Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi’s observations that wait times for the iPhone 13 have indeed come down, but the higher-end models may still not be delivered for another few weeks.

The above is at odds with what other Wall Street analysts have been reporting lately. As recently as December 1, Wedbush’s Dan Ives upped his price target on Apple stock to a Street-high $200 per share, claiming the following:

“Our iPhone 13 checks continue to be much stronger than expected with our belief that Apple is now on pace to sell north of 40 million iPhones during the holiday season.”

He elaborated further during a December 2 interview with CNBC. Dan Ives says that production cycles can ebb and flow, and that the reported slowdown in demand could be relative to Apple’s alleged decision to order up to 10 million more units going into the season — maybe an early strategy to anticipate the production and logistic challenges.

(Read more from the Apple Maven: Apple Stock To The Moon? The Impressive Late November Run)

What should AAPL investors do?

Demand for the iPhone in the shopping season has now become a he said, she said story. Professional research teams tasked with projecting quarter-to-quarter sales may want to get to the bottom of this issue. But I believe long-term investors should shift the focus of the attention.

The question of whether to own Apple stock over the long run, in my view, transcends the debate of how many iPhones Apple may sell in the next few weeks. Other factors like long-term growth driven by services and new technologies (think mixed reality and electric vehicles) along with stock valuations matter most, in my opinion.

I maintain my convictions that AAPL deserves to be a top holding in most equity portfolios. That said, I have warned readers about the possibility of the stock underperforming the S&P 500 in the immediate future, following the vicious late November rally.

Therefore, I would hold on to Apple, but only add to the position if shares shed some of their recently accumulated gains over the broad market index.

Is the price right?

Looking at a company’s business fundamentals is only half the work needed to find a good stock. How much one pays to own the shares is a key factor in the success of any investment. This is why valuation analysis is so important.

Alpha Spread’s user-friendly platform allows you to estimate a stock’s fair value –through valuation multiples, discounted cash flow, and more. I believe that the service is a must for anyone looking to own the right stock at the right price. Check out alphaspread.com and get started with a 7-day free trial.

(Disclaimers: this is not investment advice. The author may be long one or more stocks mentioned in this report. Also, the article may contain affiliate links. These partnerships do not influence editorial content. Thanks for supporting The Apple Maven)