Apple loses US$1 trillion status after tough holiday forecast

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Apple loses US$1 trillion status after tough holiday forecast

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

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

The 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 US tech stocks. Shares in Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google-owner Alphabet 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 criticised, 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 US$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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