NEW YORK – Apple needs to start making nice with Wall Street, analysts said Thursday as investors hammered the company’s stock.
The sell-off put Apple a hair’s-breadth away from losing its status as the world’s most valuable company. At Thursday’s close, it was worth $423 billion, just 1.6 percent more than No. 2 Exxon Mobil Corp. The plunge was set off by Apple’s quarterly earnings report late Wednesday, which suggested the company’s nearly decade-long growth spurt is slowing drastically.
The stock ended down $63.51 or 12 percent, at $450.50. It last traded that low a year ago. It was the biggest one-day percentage drop in the stock since Sept. 29, 2008, when two Wall Street brokerages downgraded the stock because of the recession. In dollar terms, it was the largest ever single-day change in the stock.
Should Apple try to win back the investors who are fleeing? No, analysts say. The company needs to make itself appealing to a new crop of people who’ve never considered the stock, analysts say, by doing what Wall Street wants and doling out more of its massive cash pile in the form of more generous dividends and stock buybacks.
Apple’s profits for the October-December quarter were flat compared with the year before. It still managed to grow revenue 18 percent from the year before.
Of even more concern to investors: Apple’s forecast sales growth for the current quarter is around 7 percent compared with a year ago — far from the 50-percent-plus rate it’s often hit in recent years.