November 2, 2018 / 1:04 PM / 19 days ago

Apple loses $1 trillion status after soft holiday forecast

(Reuters) - Shares in Apple Inc fell 6 percent on Friday, cutting its market value back to less than $1 trillion after it forecast softer-than-expected sales for the holiday quarter and fueled nerves over iPhone sales by saying it would no longer release the figures.

The dip in Apple’s shares to $208.50 knocked around $67 billion off its value, and put Amazon and Microsoft Corp back in the mix in the race among the United States’ big tech players to be the world’s most valuable company.

The Cupertino, California-based company blamed weakness in emerging markets and foreign exchange costs for a disappointing forecast for sales in the run-up to Christmas that are crucial to results for consumer electronics producers.

Most analysts were still upbeat on fourth-quarter results, and there was no obvious fallout for rest of the FAANG group of major U.S. tech stocks. Shares in Facebook Inc, Amazon.com Inc, Netflix Inc and Google-owner Alphabet Inc all rose on a generally buoyant Wall Street.

Eight brokerages cut their price targets for Apple, but only one - Bank of America Merrill Lynch - cut its rating on the stock, to neutral from buy.

“Time for investors to adjust to the new disclosures,” analysts from the brokerage said. “Although the long term opportunity is significant, we expect near term pressure on shares.”

The move announced on Thursday to stop reporting unit sales data for iPhones, iPad and Mac computer products was widely criticized, with some arguing it meant Apple expected sales of iPhones have now peaked.

“While the company believes units are a less relevant metric, we strongly disagree – particularly since we believe iPhone units will begin to decline y/y as a result of higher average selling prices,” Raymond James analysts said.

Apple shares were down 6.4 pct at $208.05 before the bell.

Reporting by Vibhuti Sharma and Jasmine I S; Additional reporting by Akanksha Rana; Editing by Patrick Graham

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