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Apple shares fall after UBS sees weakest ‘purchase intent’ for iPhone in five years

Shares of Apple fell on Thursday after two analysts cut the tech giant’s price target on weak iPhone demand going forward.

Purchase intention for iPhone “was down across the board” and most significantly in the U.S. and China, UBS analysts wrote in a note to clients late Wednesday, citing a survey. IPhone buying intent in the U.S. has been dialed back to a five-year low, same as iPhone 6S levels, and interest in China also hit a new low, the UBS survey showed.

In the U.S., only 18 percent of the survey respondents said they planned to buy an iPhone in the next 12 months, down from 21 percent last year, and close to the 17 percent in October 2015 during the iPhone 6S cycle. The purchase intent is 23 percent in China, which is 6 percent lower than last year’s figure. The UBS survey interviewed 6,900 consumers across five countries and it was conducted after the new iPhones Xs and Xs Max were launched.

As a result, UBS slashed its price target for Apple shares to $210 from $225 but maintained its buy rating.

“Investor expectations for this iPhone cycle are muted. Consensus estimate for iPhones in 2019 is for roughly 2 percent unit decline and about 1 percent revenue growth,” UBS analyst Timothy Arcuri wrote in a note.

Rosenblatt Securities also cut Apple’s 12-month price target to $165 from $200 on lower iPhone shipment estimates.

“We have lowered our iPhone shipment estimates for C1Q19 twice over the last two months,” Rosenblatt analyst Jun Zhang wrote in a note on Thursday. “Although we are at the low end of consensus iPhone estimates, we believe the street will continue to trim down their estimates.”

Rosenblatt reduced its earnings estimates on Apple for 2019. The firm is now more than 3 percent lower than the Wall Street consensus earnings estimate.

Apple shares were down 3 percent on Thursday, bringing their decline for the quarter to 24 percent.

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