Apple’s meteoric rise amid a crumbling economy is about to be doused with a cold shot of reality, a financial analyst warned investors Thursday. Mac sales will grow 10 percent in 2009, far below the earlier projected 43 percent increase, Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster said.
Munster cut his price target for Apple stock to $235 per share, down from $250.
“The economic and consumer spending outlook has deteriorated significantly over the last month, which we expect to continue through 2009,” Munster told clients.
The analyst expects Apple to earn $41.22 billion in 2009.
Overall Apple revenue will gain 25 percent in 2009, down from the 32 percent sales increase Piper had earlier projected. Experts predict PC sales will grow just 5 percent next year.
However, Mac and iPod sales will bear the brunt of the economy. Along with less discretionary spending by consumers, a lack of credit will slow large purchases by educational, government and small business Apple customers, Munster said.
Possibly heaviest hit will be iPod sales, expected to drop 20 percent next year compared to a six percent increase in 2008.
“We are modeling for the sky to fall on iPod demand,” the note said.
In a bit of understatement, the Piper Jaffray analyst called his revised expectations “not an optimistic outlook” for iPod sales in 2009.
Although Munster still expects 45 million iPhones will be sold in 2009, he said demand for the handset “will spike” next year. Despite the consumer meltdown, the iPhone’s strong software will outlast competitors from RIM, Nokia and Google.