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Analyst downgrades Apple, sees iPhone sales slower

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 11:38am
The Associated Press

An analyst at Pacific Crest Securities has downgraded shares of Apple Inc., joining a minor chorus of Wall Street voices that are skeptical that the company can keep riding the success of the iPhone to greater profits.

Andy Hargreaves downgraded the company from "Outperform" to "Sector Perform" late Tuesday. Demand for new iPhone models is going to falter, he said, because consumers aren't going to clamor for new hardware features anymore. That means they'll hang on to older phones longer, and when they buy, they'll buy cheaper models, he believes.

He sees a similar dynamic applying to tablets, where he expects sales of the cheaper iPad Mini to eclipse those of the full-size iPad.

Apple shares have been pressured recently by reports that the company is scaling back on iPhone 5 production, and analysts are again questioning whether the company can keep selling the phone at the high markup it commands. In the last two days, the shares have gone below $500 for the first time in 11 months.

However, Apple shares bounced back somewhat Wednesday, rising $17.88, or 3.7 percent, to $503.80 in midday trading.

Matthew Hoffman at Cowen & Co. dismissed the Apple bears in a note Wednesday, saying he believes the iPhone 5 has picked up market share in the latest quarter. He raised his earnings forecast for the latest quarter.

Apple is set to report October-to-December results on Wednesday.

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