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Apple suppliers are preparing for slower-than-expected sales of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus in the current March quarter, with orders said to be some 30 percent lower than originally expected, according to Japanese business newspaper Nikkei.
Inventory of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus has "piled up at retailers" since they launched in September, the new report claims. As a result, Apple is allegedly scaling back production for the January-to-March quarter.
It's worth noting that Tuesday's rumor comes from Nikkei Asian Review, a part of The Nikkei, which is the world's largest financial newspaper with a daily circulation of over 3 million. Previous reports about slowing iPhone sales were attributed to supply chain rumors, Apple partners, and Wall Street speculation.
It was said that Apple had previously indicated to suppliers that it expected iPhone sales to follow their usual seasonal trends in the March quarter. Tuesday's report suggested that Apple may have over-produced the iPhone 6s series in the December quarter, leaving excess inventory in the channel to start calendar 2016.
The report will almost certainly fuel concerns on Wall Street that the iPhone 6s series won't be able to continue the iPhone's upward growth trajectory from year to year. Speculation about "peak iPhone" sales has been attributed to recent struggles for AAPL stock.
Wall Street analysts have largely stood by Apple as a no-brainer long-term investment. But worries that iPhone sales could actually decline year over year in the coming quarters have led a number of research firms to cut their estimates in recent weeks, including FBR & Co., RBC Capital Markets, J.P. Morgan, and Morgan Stanley.
Investors will likely have a better indication of how the iPhone 6s series is performing when Apple announces the results of its just-concluded December quarter on Jan. 26. The company had projected revenue between $75.5 billion and $77.5 billion, with gross margins between 39 and 40 percent.
Driven by the launch of the iPhone 6s lineup and the holiday shopping season, market watchers generally expect that Apple set a new quarterly record for iPhone sales in the December frame. Their concerns instead extend to the March and June quarters, as some customers may wait for an anticipated "iPhone 7" lineup.