Apple security breach causes investor panic, stock slide ahead of iPhone 6 launch

The tech giant's stock price has plummeted over the past 24 hours, sending Apple shares to a low not experienced since January.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer
Credit: Apple

Apple stock suffered a shock at market close.

Typically the iPad and iPhone maker's shares are a strong bet, but following the well-reported hack of Apple iCloud storage accounts, investors seem to have become skittish.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has begun investigating the security breach, which targeted a number of high-profile female celebrities including Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence -- and potentially upwards of 100 celebrities and their personal photos. Apple has since denied culpability after launching an immediate investigation in to the data leak, saying:

"After more than 40 hours of investigation, we have discovered that certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the Internet.

None of the cases we have investigated has resulted from any breach in any of Apple’s systems including iCloud or Find my iPhone."

Despite at least some of the investigated cases, data breaches and stolen photos not being Apple's responsibility, the price of Apple stock still has to weather the storm. Apple stock was doing well last week -- no doubt dining out on the upcoming iPhone 6 launch -- before the security issues came to light, and hit an all-time high of $103.20. At market close on Wednesday, however, the firm's stock value dropped by 4.22 percent to $98.94.

apple shares
Source: Google Finance
apple shares
Source: Google Finance

The firm's stock has steadily climbed in tandem with an event on 9 September believed to be the unveiling of the latest iPhone, but following the iCloud investigation and a prolonged iTunes outage, many analysts on Wall Street are recommending sale of stock. In particular, Pacific Crest analyst Andy Hargreaves has recommended selling shares before the iPhone 6 unveiling.

Hargreaves believes that there will be a significant iPhone 6 upgrade cycle, with Apple potentially selling 215 million iPhones in fiscal 2015. However, the analyst also claims this profit is not enough to alter valuation metrics, and sales are likely to slow in 2016 due to fewer iPhone buyers being available -- which will also eventually cause stock to sink.

"We are maintaining our Outperform rating until we see detail on new products and services at Apple's Sept. 9 event," the analyst note states."If the announced products and services do not suggest massive incremental profit opportunities, we are likely to downgrade our rating for AAPL."

However, the analyst also suggests investors maintain some shares in the electronics giant, just in case Apple pulls something out of the hat in terms of wearable technology or payment partnerships. While the brokerage doesn't expect either industry to drive high profits, the firm is "open to being wrong."

Read on: Apple


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