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Apple's fundamentals are not good: Analyst

Apple (AAPL) is one of the "Magnificent Seven" stocks — a top performer in 2023 with shares up 55% year-to-date — but Barclays Senior Analyst Tim Long is staying on the sidelines.

Speaking with Yahoo Finance's Seana Smith at the Barclays Global Technology Conference, Long said he 'struggles' with Apple's multiple and valuation.

"Apple has basically lowered guidance four quarters in a row...the stock doesn't operate in line with fundamentals," Long added.

Long also pointed to sluggish iPhone 15 sales while warning of "another year of weakness on the hardware side" if macroeconomic conditions remain challenged.

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Click here to watch the full interview on the Yahoo Finance YouTube page or you can watch this full episode of Yahoo Finance Live here.

Video transcript

SEANA SMITH: And, Tim, another name that I know our audience is very familiar with, and it's a favorite among investors, not one of yours, though. And that's Apple. You have had a neutral rating on the stock now for quite some time.

TIM LONG: Yes.

SEANA SMITH: Why are you a bit bearish?

TIM LONG: Yeah. So Apple's a very tricky one. We're in a period now where the fundamentals are not good. They've basically lowered guidance maybe four quarters in a row. They don't give official guidance, but numbers have come down for four quarters in a row. And the stock's up, whatever, 30% or 40% this year.

So it's not always one as a stock that operates in line with fundamentals. And we struggle with the multiple and the valuation on it. I mean, this-- before five, six years ago, this was pretty steadily a mid-teens, multiple stock. And then after a two-year period, it was a 30 multiple stock. I don't know what really changed.

So we still see weakness in iPhone 15. We were just in Asia. It sounds like the 16, next year's version, is going to be much of the same, nothing too different in it, which means, if we're still in a rough macro environment, it could be another year of weakness on the hardware side.

And then we always identify services as a great business, but there's some really big risks there. And obviously, there's this Google Department of Justice case, where there's a very large revenue stream coming in to Apple to be the default browser. And that's potentially at risk now. There's a lot of risks around the App Store being investigated or in about 15 different countries. So a lot of risk to the high multiple part of that business as well.

SEANA SMITH: Going back to what you said about the iPhone 15 and now looking at the 16, but 15. From your checks, what does demand look like?

TIM LONG: It's fallen. We-- some of the markets like China was an important market where Apple was growing double digits in the first half of the year. And then that turned down to two double digit declines the last few months now. So demand is not great. What we saw through COVID for a number of their product lines was just a rapid acceleration of unit growth. So the useful life, if you will, of a phone got shorter. So people were upgrading it more frequently.

Now that's past. And it compares it more difficult. So it does seem like we're still struggling. It's a big company. And they have a huge user base, install base. So, yeah, we're going to see flat type of iPhones for the next several quarters, we think.