Apple shares fall for a third straight session on Monday, tech giant sells only 494 000 smartphones in China in February due to coronavirus outbreak

Apple Inc’s (AAPL) sales of mobile devices in China dropped below half a million units in February, as demand for such items was hurt by the coronavirus outbreak.

Apple’s branded stores in the country remained closed for at least two weeks during the past month.

Apple shares closed lower for a third consecutive trading session on NASDAQ on Monday. It has also been the steepest single-session loss since January 3rd 2019. The stock went down 7.91% ($22.86) to $266.10, after touching an intraday low at $263.36, or a price level not seen since February 28th ($256.37).

Shares of Apple Inc have retreated 9.38% so far in 2020 compared with a 14.99% loss for the benchmark index, S&P 500 (SPX).

In 2019, Apple’s stock went up 86.16%, thus, it again outperformed the S&P 500, which registered a 28.88% gain.

According to data by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), a total of 6.34 million mobile devices were shipped in the country in February, or 54.7% fewer compared to February of 2019.

Shipments of Android-based phone manufacturers Huawei Technologies and Xiaomi plummeted to 5.85 million units in February from 12.72 million units in the same month a year earlier.

Shipments of devices by Apple Inc plunged to 494 000 units in February from 1.27 million units in the same month of 2019. In January, Apple’s China sales were stable at a bit over 2 million devices.

In late January, just before the Lunar New Year holiday, Chinese authorities imposed restrictions on travel and called for avoidance of activities in public places, while those curbs remained in effect through most of February as well.

Analyst stock price forecast and recommendation

According to CNN Money, the 39 analysts, offering 12-month forecasts regarding Apple Inc’s stock price, have a median target of $350.00, with a high estimate of $400.00 and a low estimate of $190.00. The median estimate represents a 31.53% upside compared to the closing price of $266.10 on March 9th.

The same media also reported that at least 24 out of 42 surveyed investment analysts had rated Apple Inc’s stock as “Buy”, while 13 – as “Hold”. On the other hand, 1 analyst had recommended selling the stock.

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