Shares of Apple Inc. slumped 5.5 percent to $402.80, after a supplier hinted at a slowdown in iPhone and iPad production.
The decline means Apple has -for now- lost its position as the world’s most valuable publicly traded company to Exxon Mobil Corp., which has a market capitalization a few billion dollars above Apple’s $380 billion price tag.
Late Tuesday, Cirrus Logic, Inc., which supplies audio chips for the iPhone and iPad, said sales of a particular chip are slowing down as an unnamed customer moves to a newer component.
Analyst Peter Misek at Jefferies & Co. said Cirrus’s news suggests a big decline in Apple sales in the April-to-June period. That supports his view that Apple is unlikely to launch a new iPad Mini in the quarter, and that the next version of the full-size iPad may launch late in the quarter rather than early. In the last three years, Apple has launched a new iPad in March or April.
Apple does not comment on its suppliers’ announcements or its product plans. It’s set to report results for the January-to-March quarter on Tuesday.
The latest decline in the stock comes after a bruising winter for Apple. The company’s stock is down 42 percent from its all-time high of $705.07, hit on Sept. 21, when the iPhone 5 went on sale. Investors have concluded that with the demise of co-founder Steve Jobs, Apple may never again create another groundbreaking product of the magnitude of the iPhone or iPad.