Shares of Apple Inc. slumped Wednesday, after KeyBanc’s Brandon Nispel recommended investors stop buying, saying valuations are at near record levels and U.S. iPhone sales are likely to struggle. The stock
fell 0.9% in premarket trading, which puts it into negative territory for the week. A close below $171.21 on Friday would mark a fifth-straight weekly decline, which would be the longest such streak since the seven-week stretch that ended Jan. 6, 2023.
Nispel cut his rating on the technology behemoth to sector weight, after being at overweight for at least two years. He believes U.S. sales in Apple’s fiscal fourth quarter, which ended in September, will decline from a year ago for the fourth-straight year, with weakness carrying into the first quarter, as his analysis of credit and debit card spending data is showing “modest weakness.” In addition, Nispel said he expects sales from U.S. carriers to be soft, as U.S. upgrade rates are trending toward all-time lows. The post-paid growth environment is also slowing and iPhone promotions are being weighted toward higher-priced plans. And while the Wall Street consensus is for all international markets to show accelerating sales growth, “we struggle to understand why that will be the case,” he wrote. “In our view, user growth is still more important than unit growth, but we believe this could be a losing argument [near-term] given lack of catalyst, which we believe results in a neutral risk/reward,” Nispel wrote. Apple is currently expecte …