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Monday, January 14, 2013, 05:09 am PT (08:09 am ET)

Rumors of reduced iPhone 5 orders briefly send Apple shares below $500

Shares of Apple stock dipped below $500 in early trading Monday morning, as investors reacted to new reports claiming the company had made significant cuts to iPhone 5 orders.

iPhone 5


AAPL shares were down nearly 4 percent before the market opened, a hit that came after both The Wall Street Journal and Nikkei issued reports claiming that Apple had slashed iPhone 5 component orders due to weak demand. The company is said to have cut "roughly half" of its orders for the 4-inch display on its latest smartphone, and also initiated a drawdown on other components in the current quarter, which concludes in March.

The news comes just over a week before Apple is set to announce earnings for its recently concluded December quarter. Apple's sales during the holiday season are expected to be record setting, particularly for the iPhone, which some believe may have reached sales of 50 million.

Uncertainty about Apple's future growth has made next Wednesday's earnings report conference call that much more important for the company. Last week, before rumors about iPhone 5 orders surfaced, one prominent analyst had already declared that the Jan. 23 call would be Apple's most important in a decade.

Even before reports claimed iPhone 5 component orders were halved, Apple stock had tumbled nearly 17 percent over the last three months. It's been said that investors are concerned about Apple's gross margins in 2013, in addition to the company's growth potential.

The last time Apple stock went below $500 was last February. The company's high came in mid-September, when it was briefly priced at more than $700 per share.

Riding the hype of the iPhone 5 launch, some analysts predicted that AAPL stock was headed for $1,000 per share, and Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets has maintained his price target of $1,111. But in premarket trading on Monday, Apple had become worth less than half of those targets.