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Morgan Stanley fires back at iPhone doomsday research

iPhone 15 Pro Max -- Apple's current sales leader

One investment firm isn't so sold on tales of disastrous iPhone order cuts, and instead, is bullish on what they see as better than expected order volume across Apple's supply chain.

In what has become an annual tradition, reports have emerged out of China of a potentially terrible year of iPhone sales. In the spring, supply chain estimates are made, and they are invariably said to be deep cuts in estimated sales volumes, beyond what investment firms believed to be the case.

Morgan Stanley disagrees. In a note to investors seen by AppleInsider Erik Woodring notes that the firm's Greater China team has raised June quarter iPhone builds — which will partially encompass the fall iPhone 16 cycle.

The investment firm does note that Apple has had the worst start in a calendar year in a decade. At the same time, that in recent weeks there has been an upside to previous predictions, up to 5 percent more than previously predicted.

Woodring's positive estimates are derived from conversations with Foxconn. They are then paired with strong interest in older iPhone model sales in emerging markets, and stability everywhere other than China.

The note points out that there is a March quarter revenue upside to the estimates, and potentially less June-quarter downsides than previously predicted.

Despite all this, the investment firm hasn't changed the Apple stock price target that it holds. That remains at $220.

Morgan Stanley sees a potential higher price from the possibility of a hardware subscription model arriving, and headset and other launches scaling up more quickly. Potential hazards to the price target include weaker global spending than expected, and the possibility of harsher governmental regulation focused on the App Store.

Other investment firms opinions vary, of course. Wedbush is more bullish than Morgan Stanley, with them saying that while the next two quarters may be tough, Apple should return to growth in the September quarter.

Om the other hand, Loop Capital believes that both Apple's overall revenue and its earnings per share will decline in 2024 because of iPhone sales weaknesses that will persist over the entire year. If true, that would be the first time this has happened since 2016.