Apple Gets Price Target, Estimate Cut From Nomura

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Apple's ( AAPL) iPhone 5 sales continue to be a hot topic on Wall Street, with Nomura Equity Research cutting its estimates and price target for the tech giant on Tuesday.

Citing "signs of weaker-than-expected" iPhone 5 sales in its checks, Nomura cut its iPhone unit estimates for fiscal year 2013 by 5% to 157 million from 166 million. For fiscal 2014, the research firm slashed its estimate by 8% to 184 million iPhones from 199 million.

Nomura, which also cut its Apple price target to $530 from $660, lowered its December quarter iPhone sales estimate to 48 million units from 50 million and its March quarter prediction to 39 million from 43 million.

Shares of Apple ( AAPL) and some of its key partners came under pressure on Monday following a media report that the tech giant has cut iPhone component orders.

The Wall Street Journal on Sunday reported that Apple cut component orders for its iPhone 5 because of "weaker-than-expected" demand during its January to March quarter.

While the report was greeted with skepticism by TheStreet's Rocco Pendola and Chris Ciaccia, Apple's stock reacted nonetheless, falling 3.5% during Monday's trading.

Shares of Apple dipped 2.15% to $490.94 shortly after market open on Tuesday.

Nomura analyst Stuart Jeffrey warned that Apple's near-term catalysts appear weak, in a note released on Tuesday.

"Launch of iPhone 5S or iPad mini with Retina display could be positive but seems unlikely to materially boost demand," he wrote. "iOS7 launch may prove more critical (likely due in June), but recent management changes at Apple may limit extent of enhancements."

Jeffrey added that the benefits of the rumored deal between Apple and China Mobile may not be felt until 2014.

In its note on Tuesday, however, Nomura raised its iPad unit estimates from 19.2 million to 21 million for the December quarter, and from 18.2 million to 20.6 million for the March quarter, boosted by demand for the iPad Mini. For fiscal 2013, the equity research specialist hiked its iPad forecast from 79.9 million to 89.6 million.

Nomura forecast Apple fiscal 2013 and 2014 earnings of $45 a share and $50 a share, respectively. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expect the iPhone maker to report earnings of $48.46 a share and $56.82 a share, respectively.

Nomura also cut its Apple revenue forecast for fiscal 2013 and 2014 from $188.34 billion to $182.98 billion and from $212.4 billion to $207.18 billion, respectively. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters are looking, respectively, for $191 billion and $219.89 billion.

"We are more cautious than sell-side forecasts for revenue and gross margin, mostly driven by our expectation that iPhone gross margins and ASPs are unsustainably high," wrote Jeffrey.

Apple has not yet responded to TheStreet's request for comment on the rumor of weakening iPhone demand.

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

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