APPLE has lost $50bn of its value in the biggest fall in its share price in more than four years, after analysts on Wall Street slashed their forecasts for the technology giant.
More than 20 banks, including Credit Suisse and Barclays Capital, lowered their price targets on Apple shares, reducing them by an average of $132 to $612, amid fears that the company's extraordinary growth period of the last few years is coming to an end.
Shares crashed 12pc in early trading today and remained down more than 10pc at $461.5 by late morning in New York.
Investors were severely rattled after Apple’s fourth quarter results revealed a marked slowdown. It might have delivered record profits of $13.1bn, but they were only a fraction higher than it notched up in the same period last year.
Analysts warned that the slowdown could be permanent. It is “material and here to stay”, said Peter Misek at Jefferies & Co as he cut his share price target by $300 to $500.
Concerns centred on the increasing competition Apple faces from rival technology firms, who have upped their games considerably following the launch of the iPhone and iPad tablet device, and fears that Apple’s pipeline of new products has slowed.
Analysts also raised anxieties over a possible slowdown in demand for Apple products in China – the territory which Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, said would eventually the US as its biggest market.
There was less agreement about how Apple should arrest its share price fall. Many analysts called on the company to launch a range of cheaper smartphones.
“Apple's modus operandi to date has been to cream the high-end off each market, but as the company's grown it may now need to target more of the mainstream," said analysts Evercore Partners.
Others questioned whether it should be staking so much on a single type of product and called for a new type of gadget altogether.
The company is rumoured to be working on an Apple television, but there are no signs that a launch is imminent.
- Katherine Rushton, - Telegraph.co.uk