Apple shares take $50 billion tumble in face of weak iPhone sales

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Shares of Apple fell by 12 percent Thursday after Christmas sales of iPhones fell far below what was projected. In dollars and cents, that 12 percent translates into $50 billion.

Nearly 20 brokerage firms cut back price targets for Apple stock by $132, to $612 a share. Jefferies & Co., meanwhile, cut its rating on the stock from “buy” to “hold.” The Telegraph quoted one Jefferies analyst characterizing the fall as a red flag and indicative of an iPhone slowdown that was “real and material.”

Apple’s losing because of screen-size competition from other companies, according to one industry analyst. Samsung, for instance, offers screens that hit 5 inches, compared with Apple’s smaller 3½ and 4 inches.

Apple reported record shipments of its iPhone in December to the tune of 47.8 million. But the forecast was much higher, at 50 million.

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