Apple shares plunge, with Credit Suisse saying too soon to buy

Ryan Vlastelica

Apple Inc. shares could fall further as the company’s decision to close all of its retail stores outside China due to the coronavirus “marks an escalation in the impact of COVID-19 on both Apple and our coverage more broadly,” according to Credit Suisse.

Shares of Apple tumbled nearly 14% in pre-market trading on Monday, the latest example of extreme volatility at the iPhone maker. Even with a surge of 13% on Friday, the stock remains down about 15% from a record high reached in February.

Despite the scale of the recent sell-off, “uncertainty remains too high for us to step in at these levels,” wrote analyst Matthew Cabral, who reiterated a neutral rating and $290 price target. He cited “both the possibility of closures extending beyond two weeks,” and the risk of a broader slowdown in consumer spending as factors behind his cautious near-term view.

Wall Street has been struggling to evaluate the impact the outbreak will have on Apple and its share price. Over the weekend, Loup Ventures estimated that the move to close stores could reduce revenue by as much as 2% in the current quarter. Last week, Cowen warned that the stock could face additional downside risk of 15% to 20%, based on its valuation and a worst-case scenario for revenue. However, Wells Fargo upgraded its view on the stock, citing a “compelling risk/reward for long-term patient investors.”

On Monday, RBC Capital Markets lowered its price target on Apple to $345 from $358, though it recommended adding to positions. The “near-term choppiness presents opportunity for increasing exposure” to the iPhone maker as the long-term bull case remains intact. A 5G iPhone remains “a sizable opportunity for both higher unit sales and higher selling prices.”