The Wall Street Analyst Who May Have Cost Apple $14 Billion

It's not a good day to be Alex Gauna at JMP Securities

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On Wednesday, Apple saw its third worst day ever in dollar terms, shedding 4.6% of its value (roughly $14 billion) before the market closed. Apple's plunge, which fell twice as fast as the market, coincided with a rare downgrade by one Wall Street analyst named Alex Gauna at JPM Securities. Noting weaker sales by a large Apple manufacturer in Taiwan he dropped his Apple rating from "market outperform" to "market perform" and now everyone's blaming that decision for the fall.

Even worse for the analyst, he's getting harangued relentessly by industry analysts and journalists.

"I never thought much of Gauna's work," writes Apple expert Philip Elmer-DeWitt at Fortune. "But he really distinguished himself Wednesday by downgrading the stock and casting aspersions on its product sales even as customers were still lining up outside Apple Stores in the early morning hours to buy the latest iPad."

Analysts Chitra Gopal and Steve Fox at CLSA say Gauna was wrong to downgrade his rating, because Apple's share of the Taiwanese manufacturer (Hon Hai), which had weaker sales, isn't very significant.Yair Reiner at Oppenheimer & Co. agrees, saying Hon Hai is a "bad proxy" for Apple and that the correlation between the two companies' revenue "appears to be a product of coincidence more than causality.” Addressing the issue of Apple's supply line health (in wake of the earthquake in Japan), Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster said "Apple is probably in better shape than any of its competitors to weather the storm."

"For me, nothing better underscored the shallowness of Gauna's analysis than the appearance Wednesday of a 100-page report on Apple by a team at Credit Suisse" adds Elmer-DeWitt. "Credit Suisse set a target for Apple of $500 -- $170 above Wednesday's closing price."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.