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Barron's Why Apple Stock Keeps Dropping, and What Could Turn It Around

Apple shares are in the red this year, so Wall Street is chattering about why that is and what might change it.

The stock was down 2.8% at $174.68 on Monday morning. This year, shares are 9.3% lower, while the S&P 500 is up 7.6%.

The latest blow came Monday, when the European Commission said it was fining Apple nearly $2 billion over what it called “abusive App Store rules” for music-streaming providers. Apple said it would appeal the decision, which it said came even though the commission didn’t identify credible evidence that consumers were harmed.

The past month has offered plenty of other reasons for the stock to fall.

On Friday, Goldman Sachs  removed the company from its U.S. Conviction List—a list that the investment bank said includes 20 to 25 “of what we believe to be our most differentiated fundamental Buy ideas across our U.S. stock coverage”—without disclosing the thinking behind the move. Apple had spent 274 days on the list.

At the end of February, the company said internally that it was abandoning its car project and would be channeling focus toward generative artificial intelligence, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

At the beginning of last month, when Apple disclosed its earnings for the December quarter, management issued a disappointing forecast for the March quarter. The call implied overall quarterly revenue would drop 5% from a year earlier to about $90 billion, with a decline of nearly 10% in iPhone sales.

Melius Research says there is no reason to panic, however.

“The lack of growth for 5 of 6 quarters (including this one) is apparently new news. But it’s time for a deep breath,” analysts Ben Reitzes and Nick Monroe wrote on Monday. “Apple has an active installed base of over 2.2B devices and 99% of you are never going to switch to Android – so a ‘comeback’ is likely.” They rate shares at Buy with a target of $220 for the price.

The company needs to deal with two sizable challenges: a potential drop in revenue in China and a possible ruling against Google in its antitrust case, the analysts said, referring to a 2020 lawsuit the Justice Department filed against Google.