Apple Inc. (AAPL) - Get Report shares edged higher on Friday, Jan. 5, after the world's biggest tech company assured investors that security issues linked to major chipmakers haven't affected performance in iPhones and Macs following an operating system upgrade.
Apple said it would release a "patch" for users of its devices to install on the Safari browser over the coming days in order to mitigate the affects of potential security flaws that could lead to attacks known as "Meltdown" and "Spectre." The stock was also supported by a research note from Swiss investment bank UBS, which indicated that iPhone demand may have accelerated after the launch of the company's flaghship "X" model in early November, boosting its overall average selling prices.
"Despite supply chain volatility, fundamental iPhone demand appears to have improved post the iPhone X launch," the UBS report noted. "This provides confidence in our iPhone estimates and could even mean upside to ASPs (average selling price) for Apple given the higher implied mix towards the iPhone X."
Apple shares rose 0.08 to $173.18 in early trading on Friday.
Apple admitted Thursday that all Mac systems and iOS devices are potentially at risk from the two security bugs disclosed this week affecting processors used in computers and phones but said its unaware of any successful exploits of the bugs.
"Our testing with public benchmarks has shown that the changes in the December 2017 updates resulted in no measurable reduction in the performance of macOS and iOS ... or in common Web browsing benchmarks," Apple said.
Apple had one of its worst trading day of the year in late December as investors questioned the depth of demand for its flagship iPhone X pegged to a report from Taiwan's Economic Daily newspaper suggesting the tech giant was ready to slash its iPhone X sales forecasts to 30 million from 50 million over the three months ending in December.
The Economic Daily's report is the latest in a series of concerns expressed over holiday demand for the iPhone X, which carries a list price of $999 and launched in early November.
Instinet, a division of the Japanese investment bank Nomura, lowered its price target on the tech giant by $10 to $175 and cut its rating on the stock to "neutral" from "buy" last week, with analyst Jeffrey Kvaal also trimming his full-year earnings per share forecast by 25 cents to $11.50 and lowering his estimate for iPhone sales over Apple's financial year, which ends in September, to 245 million units from a previous target of 265 million.
The downbeat forecast for iPhone X sales echoes similar concerns on Wall Street that Apple's decision to stagger the release of its anniversary edition six weeks after the launch of its iPhone 8 and iPhone 8-plus models may have trimmed consumer demand.
Others have suggested the $1,000 price tag is keeping buyers from stretching to the anniversary edition, given that its features are not substantially different from the current iPhone 8.
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