Apple shares sink after Goldman predicts big drop in iPhone sales

The coronavirus is poised to spur a massive drop in iPhone sales this year, according to Goldman Sachs.

Analysts at the Wall Street bank on Friday said they expect iPhone shipments to fall 36 percent during the third quarter as customers around the world remain locked down due to the coronavirus, and downgraded Apple’s stock to “sell.”

Goldman added that it doesn’t expect Apple to launch the next generation of iPhone models until at least November — a two-month delay from the company’s usual September launch event — as limited global travel could delay its final engineering and production process.

The bank noted that average selling prices for consumer devices — a metric that is normally strong for Apple due to the high price of many of its phones — are likely to decline during a recession and won’t bounce back quickly as consumers will be wary of Apple’s most expensive models.

“We do not assume that this downturn results in Apple losing users from its installed base,” Goldman analysts said in a note. “We simply assume that existing users will keep devices longer and choose less expensive Apple options when they do buy a new device.”

The downgrade sent Apple shares down 1.4 percent at closing Friday, to $282.80.

Apple earlier this week unveiled its latest budget smartphone, the iPhone SE. The device, which packs the guts of an iPhone 11 into the cheaper-to-make body of an iPhone 8, starts at $399.

Preorders for the iPhone SE went live Friday morning.