Shares of Apple, the No. 1 vendor of tablet computers, fell as much as 3.3 percent Thursday amid concerns that shortages or floods in Thailand may depress iPad2 shipments.
In late trading, Apple was at $385.09, down $10.19 or about 2.5 percent. Apple shares have tumbled from their high of $426.70 after the Cupertino, Calif.-based giant narrowly missed fourth-quarter earnings estimates last month.
Despite the prowess of Apple CEO Tim Cook in handling electronics components through the global supply chain, Wall Street analysts have battled one another about reports they've gleaned about parts shortages, caused in part by the devastating Thailand floods.
Citigroup analyst Richard Gardner, predicting current-quarter shipments of 14.5 million iPad2s, said even a slight downturn wouldn't much damage predictions for 2011 sales of more than 38 million, compared with only 15 million in 2010.
Apple sold 32.1 million iPads in the fiscal year ended Sept. 24.
On the other hand, Gardner told clients Apple may experience constraints on flexible printed circuit boards from Thailand shipped to Hon Hai Precision, Apple's primary vendor for the iPhone 4S. But the Taiwanese maker likely should be able to deliver as many as 33 million units this quarter, enough to meet demand.
Earlier, analysts at Cleveland Research as well as Ticonderoga Securities trimmed estimates for iPad2 shipments to 12 million, citing checks and reports of lower Apple orders.
But the analysts didn't determine if the apparent shortfall might have been caused by Apple's pre-ordering components and assembly line space earlier this year.
Apple is traditionally mum about its orders and vendor relationships. Sprint-Nextel, the No. 3 U.S. wireless carrier, is believed to have committed as much as $15.5 billion to Apple to become an iPhone vendor for the first time this month.
Even with the decline, Apple's market capitalization remains around $357.9 billion, making it the world's second most valuable company after Exxon-Mobil.