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Concerns mount about iPhone shipments

SAN FRANCISCO: Shares of Apple dipped on Wednesday on growing expectations that the consumer technology company may sell fewer iPhones next year than previously thought.

In a note to clients on Wednesday, Bank of America cut its estimate for fiscal 2016 iPhone shipments by 10 million to 220 million, pointing to a weakening among Apple’s suppliers.

In another note, Raymond James lowered its estimate for 2016 iPhone shipments to 224 million from 229 million, also pointing to lackluster expectations at Apple suppliers. And on Tuesday, Baird Equity Research trimmed its 2016 iPhone forecast to 234.7 million from 243.8 million, implying 1.5 percent growth over 2015.

Reflecting growing doubts about future iPhone sales, shares of Apple have fallen 4.4 percent over the past month and are down about 18 percent from record highs in April.

In the latest hints of weakness among Apple suppliers, Imagination Technologies on Tuesday said softness in the overall semiconductor industry and smartphone market meant its operating profit would be lower than expected for the rest of its fiscal year.

That mirrored weakness at German peer Dialog Semi, which also cut its outlook, citing softer-than-expected demand for chips used in mobile phones such as the iPhone.

“Though we always take supply chain comments with a hefty grain of salt, the Baird semiconductor team recently suggested a 20 percent cut in procurement orders based on its supply chain conversations,” Baird analyst William Power wrote in a client note.

Reflecting increasing bets by Wall Street against Apple, short interest edged up to 1.9 percent of its outstanding shares at the end of November from 1.3 percent midway through the month, according to Nasdaq data.

Morgan Stanley said in a note on Sunday it expects iPhone unit sales to drop 6 percent in the 2016 calendar year as higher prices in markets outside Americas, excluding China, and maturing smartphone penetration in developed markets weigh on upgrades and new user growth.

Apple shares were down 0.7 percent at $109.71 on Monday, well off their high of $134.54 on April 28.

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