Tepid sales of Apple's new iPhone models in China have raised concerns about the company's ability to justify its exorbitant value and avoid a four-quarter streak of declining revenue, which would be the company's worst run since 2001. This comes as the company deals with political issues with China and overheating gadgets, and as KeyBanc becomes the second firm to lower the stock this month.
According to James Abate, chief investment officer at Centre Asset Management, Apple's lack of growth and the high pricing of its shares are causing a disconnect that is difficult to ignore.
"Apple has some of the weakest growth among the mega caps, but the stock hasn't de-rated to multiples it saw in previous periods when it wasn't growing," he was quoted as saying in an interview. Because of Apple's "systemic" relevance to the stock market, Abate believes that investors should hedge against its valuation risk with put options. Apple gained 0.6% on Thursday, snapping a four-day losing streak.
Shares have fallen 10% since the end of July, compared to a 5.6% loss in the Nasdaq 100 Index during the same period. Although Apple remains the largest component of the S&P 500 Index, accounting for more than 7.1% of the index weight, the slide has destroyed more than $320 billion in market value.
Because of its market power, it is impossible for stock investors to avoid, although other megacaps may provide more appealing growth prospects and trade at more fair multiples.
"You can make a compelling fundamental case for Amazon as a margin expansion story, for Microsoft and Nvidia as part of the AI craze, or for Alphabet and Meta weathering a slowdown in consumer advertising, but Apple has demonstrated no revenue growth for some time," Abate said in a statement. "It isn't like Cisco in 1999, about to fall off a cliff, but if we got a real dislocation in markets, the brunt would probably fall on stocks like Apple."