A rare quarterly earnings miss at Apple Inc. prompted a few brokerages to slightly lower price targets for the stock but, with the next iPhone looming, most analysts urged investors to see this as a buying opportunity.
Shares of Apple, the world's most valuable technology company, fell 5 percent to $572.40 in premarket trade on Wednesday after the company's third-quarter results missed market expectations due to disappointing iPhone sales and a weak European economy.
"While we acknowledge that iPhone weakness will lead some to questions around growth potential, we remain of the view that with a significant product refresh in 2H12, this will prove temporary," analysts at Credit Suisse said.
JP Morgan cut its price target on the stock to $675 from $695 and BMO Capital Markets cut its target on Apple share price to $680 from $700. Canaccord Genuity dropped its target just slightly, to $797 from $800.
But 11 other brokerages maintained their price targets and Thomson Reuters' StarMine data showed 22 analysts rate the stock "strong buy," and 26 rate it "buy."
Four have a "hold," and only one rates it "strong sell," and the mean price target is still $726.11 — around 20 percent above current levels.
Analysts issuing notes after the result said they expected Apple shares to trade higher towards the end of the year, and maintained their positive view on the company ahead of several significant product launches, including the new iPhone 5.
The current dip in Apple's share price is "likely one of the last buying opportunities ahead of the iPhone 5 launch," said Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty.
Apple has a great deal riding on its next iPhone, the product that yields more than half its revenue and helps shore up overall margins.
While it has not set a release date, Apple is widely expected to launch the next iPhone in October.
Still, JPMorgan Securities analyst Mark Moskowitz raised concerns over the greater-than-expected decline in the average selling price (ASP) of the company's products and the slowdown in its China business.
"The accelerating rates of decline in blended ASPs of iPhone and iPad, as estimated by the JPMorgan IT Hardware research team, could imply that Apple is being forced to test price-elasticity to drive incremental demand," warned JP Morgan's Moskowitz.
Shares of the Cupertino, California-based company closed at $600.92 on Tuesday on Nasdaq.
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