Apple’s Stock Is Losing Its Shine After an Ugly Month of December

Investors are no longer turning a blind eye to risks facing Apple Inc., an about-face that has taken the iPhone maker’s market value below $2 trillion and threatens more pain for the stock in the months ahead.

Until recently, shares of the world’s most valuable company defied much of the gloom that walloped other tech giants in 2022, even as last year represented the worst for the stock since 2008. But now, delays in production of iPhones and concern that demand is weakening as the economy slows are making the stock look more pedestrian by the day. With its valuation still above its average over the past decade, there’s plenty of room to fall.

“Apple has been seen as a flight to safety trade and when people kind of throw in the towel that’s when they sell Apple,” said Matt Maley, chief market strategist at Miller Tabak + Co. “When we reach a bottom, Apple tends to get washed out and cheap and it’s still, if anything, slightly expensive.”

Apple shares are priced at about 20 times profits expected over the next 12 months. While that’s down significantly from recent peaks above 30, it’s still above the 10-year average of 17 times, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The sentiment swing in the stock has been swift. As recently as November, Apple was outperforming the S&P 500, a remarkable feat considering other tech giants like Inc. and Alphabet Inc. had lost more than a third of their values in 2022. Apple’s strength was rooted in its massive capital returns to shareholders through buybacks and dividends and the belief that its hard-to-leave ecosystem of loyal customers would insulate the company in a potential recession.