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Brean Capital believes iPhone sales will fall to 216M this year, return to growth in 2017

Though the firm remains bullish on Apple, Brean Capital believes Apple will see total iPhone sales for 2016 drop by 16 million units, amidst a slowing smartphone market.

Analyst Ananda Baruah issued a note to investors on Monday, a copy of which was provided to AppleInsider, reiterating Brean's "buy" rating on AAPL, but cutting its price target from $170 to $155.

In all, Baruah believes Apple will sell 216 million iPhones in calendar year 2016, a decline from the 232 million the company shipped in 2015. The estimates see iPhone sales remaining relatively consistent for the next few quarters, hitting 50 million in the just-concluded March frame, dipping to 40 million units in the June quarter, and growing to 50 million units in the September quarter.

For the holiday quarter, Brean Capital's forecast calls on Apple and its next-generation "iPhone 7" to drive sales up to 70 million. If the prediction holds accurate, that would be a decrease from both the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6 launches, which reached nearly 75 million units.

For iPhone growth, Brean Capital is looking forward to 2017, when it projects Apple will ship 237 million units. That would exceed the 232 million sold in 2015 and represent a new record for the company.

Apple has already indicated that it expects iPhone sales to see their first-ever decline in the March quarter. It will reveal the results of that three-month span in an earnings report scheduled to be issued on April 25.

Investors have expressed concern that the declines could continue past the March quarter and carry through the rest of 2016. In a more extreme projection, Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities said earlier on Monday that he believes iPhone shipments are likely to fall below 200 million units for the full year.

Apple launched its new 4-inch iPhone SE last week with an aggressive entry price of $399, but that model is not expected to outperform the company's flagship iPhone 6s series. A formal next-generation "iPhone 7" with an all-new design is widely anticipated to debut in September.