Analysts cut Apple targets on profit decline, soft outlook

Apple Inc's first quarterly profit decline in more than a decade and a soft outlook for the current quarter prompted at least five brokerages to slash their price targets on the iPhone maker's shares by up to $180 per share.

Apple forecast revenue of $33.5 billion to $35.5 billion this quarter, lagging Wall Street's average expectations of $38.2 billion.

Apple shares traded up slightly in after-hours trade at $407.20 after Apple's results, in which it also announced the return of $100 billion in capital to shareholders.

Apple could be resetting investor expectations with its soft June quarter outlook, JP Morgan's Mark Moskowitz said. He slashed his target price on the shares to $545 from $725, reflecting the much lower revenue outlook.

Apple also disappointed Wall Street by indicating that consumers would have to wait till the fall and 2014 for any new products.

"We had anticipated a late July to August launch of the iPhone 5S and midrange iPhone," Nomura analysts said in a note. The brokerage cut its target price to $420 from $490.

Apple relies heavily on new product launches to drive revenue growth. It refreshed its offerings in October, unveiling the 7.9-inch iPad mini and an updated full-size iPad.

Investors looking for sales and profit to start accelerating again will need to be patient, analysts at Credit Suisse said as they cut their target price on Apple shares by $75 to $600.

Facing stiff competition from Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Google's Android phone system, Apple shares have almost halved since hitting a record high of $705.07 last September.

(Reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed; Editing by Rodney Joyce)