Apple shares slump ahead of September 9 iPhone launch
By Saqib Iqbal Ahmed
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Apple Inc AAPL.O shares were on track Wednesday for their worst day since January just days ahead of the launch of its latest iPhone, with one brokerage warning of a stock downgrade unless its new products show better promise for profit growth.
Shares of the smartphone maker slumped 4 percent - its worst percentage drop since late-January - as Apple faced scrutiny of its security systems after photos of celebrities stored in individual iCloud accounts were leaked online.
The stock lost $3.57 to $99.15, with 94 million shares changing hands, exceeding its 50-day daily moving average of 45.8 million shares traded, and putting it on track for one of its busiest days of the year.
Apple, which hasn't introduced a new product since the iPad in 2010, is under pressure to push the envelope for consumer electronics devices.
Some industry observers expect the iPhone maker to unveil a version of a smartwatch next week, though it's unclear how successful Apple will be in bringing wearables into the mainstream market where others like Samsung 005930.KS have failed.
On Wednesday, Pacific Crest Securities analyst Andy Hargreaves said it was time to take profit in Apple ahead of the expected iPhone launch, scheduled for Sept. 9.
"Unless next week's event details massive incremental profit opportunities, we are likely to downgrade (Apple's) rating," he wrote in a research note.
Other analysts said the stock was also weighed by growing unease over the recent breach of celebrity photos. Apple said the photos leaked online - of celebrities including Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence and swimsuit model Kate Upton - were done by a targeted hacking of individual iCloud accounts, and not through a breach of Apple systems. Continued...