What’s Behind Munster’s Shocking Apple Cut?

Apple-2007-apple-41159_1680_1050In a development likely to greatly hurt shareholder sentiment, well-known Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) bull Gene Munster has cut his price target for the company’s stock. The Piper Jaffray analyst said slightly less optimistic expectations vis-à-vis the company’s profit margins had led to his decision of adjusting the target from $910 to $875 per share.

“What’s going on is we’re being more conservative,” Munster told CNBC’s “Fast Money” on Thursday. “We’re factoring more the negative potential outcomes in the next year and two years, and not factoring as much as the positive potentials.”

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Munster explained that his analysis of lowered profit margins were inspired by the possibility of Apple releasing a sub-$400 iPhone this year to target cost-conscious markets. However, he added that he hadn’t accounted for the potential growth in market share for this particular segment. What happens next?…

appleChecking Expectations

According to Munster, several analysts previously highly bullish toward Apple were beginning to become a little more conservative in their predictions, which could help reduce the enormous expectations Apple has to deal with quarter after quarter. Going into what is likely an important year, the tempered sentiment may in fact help the company, he added.

“In some ways, that sets up 2013 for a good year because over the last eight years that I’ve been covering [Apple’s stock], it’s been uber optimism from the buy side and the sell side, and I feel like in some ways it’s a good time to own it because these huge expectations — with myself, including a lot of investors — are now in check,” he said.

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Munster also tried to calm immediate fears likely to arise from his price target by saying that the new prediction still represented a significant upside.

“Yes, the narrative reads that we’ve cut our price target a couple of times, but at the end of the day, it’s still 70 percent upside to the current stock,” he said. “We still feel very good about owning Apple in 2013.”

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