Apple higher as February Vision Pro headset sale date offsets iPhone concern

Apple  (AAPL) – Get Free Report shares bumped higher in early Monday trading after the tech giant said its new Vision Pro mixed reality headsets would go on sale early next month. 

Apple, which has had its worst start to any year in more than four decades in terms of stock performance, said preorders for the Vision Pro would start on Jan. 19, with full sales at Apple Store locations starting on Feb. 2.

The Vision Pro will start at $3,499, Apple said last year, compared with a baseline price of around $500 for Meta Platforms’  (META) – Get Free Report Quest 4. The Vision Pro will be powered by Apple’s internal M silicon chips and will include a gesture-based control system as well as over a dozen cameras.

“The era of spatial computing has arrived,” said CEO Tim Cook. “Apple Vision Pro is the most advanced consumer electronics device ever created.”

“Its revolutionary and magical user interface will redefine how we connect, create, and explore,” Cook added.

Apple shares, which fell 5.9% last week for its worst start to any year since the early 1980s, were marked 0.72% higher in premarket trading to indicate an opening bell price of $182.48 each.

Apple headwinds tied to iPhone demand

Last week, Taiwan-based Foxconn, a key Apple assembler responsible for around 70% of the tech giant’s iPhone shipments, said first-quarter revenue would likely decline from the year-earlier period’s levels following what it described as a “flattish” holiday quarter for consumer electronics sales.

The cautious outlook has added to concern that the tech giant, which traded at a record price last month, giving it a market value of more than $3 trillion, faces headwinds into the first half of the year tied to weakening iPhone demand and an uneven consumer backdrop in China.

Analysts at Jefferies said Monday that iPhone sales in China fell 30% over the first week of this year, even amid aggressive discounting in online marketplaces. The figure followed an overall 3% decline in 2023. 

Other Wall Street analysts are also lining up to lower their ratings on the stock, with both Barclays and Piper Sandler highlighting near-term risks in separate notes last week. Their moves put the proportion of analysts who were bearish on the stock at the highest levels in three years.

Apple will publish its fiscal-first-quarter earnings report after the close on Feb. 1, with investors looking for a bottom line of $2.09 a share on revenue of $117.87 billion.

The group itself said December-quarter sales would likely be flat with the $117 billion total recorded over the year-earlier period. That forecast fell shy of Wall Street’s 5% gain and followed the tech giant’s fourth consecutive sequential revenue decline and big pullbacks in Mac, iPad and Apple Watch sales.

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