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Apple's meteoric rise is over, says KeyBanc

iPhone 15 Pro Max

KeyBanc Capital Markets believes Apple will struggle to grow sales, especially in the US, and has cut its rating for the firm.

Ahead of the iPhone 15 launch, investment firms had low expectations, with JP Morgan dropping its Apple stock target to $230 from $235. Subsequently, JP Morgan has kept that target price, despite reporting that shipping times for the iPhone 15 Pro Max are at "historically" long times.

Now KeyBanc Capital Markets has also questioned Apple's ability to continue beating expectations. In a note to investors seen by CNBC, the company expects soft growth in the Americas, where sales are "likely to struggle."

"We expect the U.S. to experience its fourth consecutive y/y decline in F4Q23, potentially carrying into F124 for several reasons," wrote analyst Brandon Nispel. "We also expect margins to improve at a slower pace in the next couple of years."

"We see [Apple] stock trading at rich multiples and expect trends in key markets such as the U.S. to remain soft, which puts pressure on [international markets] for growth," continued Nispel. "We believe in order to justify upside to AAPL shares, peak valuations need to be applied or its growth profile needs to inflect higher."

KeyBanc also predicts all-time low phone upgrade rates, as US carriers are targeting the more expensive iPhone 15 Pro models.

Overall, the company says that iPhone revenue will be down 2.2% over the whole of 2023 — but up 2.1% in 2024.

KeyBanc also expects that Apple's revenue growth for fiscal 2024 will be 3.5%. According to CNBC, the average consensus from other analysts is 6%. Consequently, KeyBanc has cut its Apple rating from "overweight" to "sector weight."