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KeyBanc's Hargreaves: Strong iPhone Sales In Q3 Is A Concern

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KeyBanc's Hargreaves: Strong iPhone Sales In Q3 Is A Concern
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Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) sold 41.03 million iPhones during its fiscal third quarter, which was higher than the 40.4 million units it sold a year ago and also above the 40.7 million units analysts were expecting. This is encouraging news as it shows demand for iPhones remains strong, right? Not at all, at least according to KeyBanc Capital's Andy Hargreaves.

Apple and many investors were expecting a "pause in demand" for iPhone sales during the quarter, Hargreaves said during CNBC's "Squawk Alley" segment Wednesday. Granted, this implies that "people still want to buy iPhones, which is great" but it also says "they don't care enough about the [iPhone 8] to wait a few months."

While this may be the case, will this hurt Apple's stock outlook looking forward, the analyst was asked. The stock is trading north of $800 billion, which in itself is a large number, but it is also trading at less than 18 times earnings — a discount to the overall market, technology sector and even the consumer staple sector.

Hargreaves went on to note that over the past few years, Apple hasn't shown any profit growth and the iPhone continues to generate over 65 percent of total gross profit. Looking forward, it will be very hard for Apple to achieve a growth rate above a mid-single digit.

"From that perspective when you are comparing it to other technology companies, even big ones like Google/Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FB)," he explained. "Those companies are growing extremely fast and I think it is really hard to argue that Apple should be worth anything close to them."

At time of publication, shares were up 4.63 percent at $156.99.

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