The stock market was broadly lower on Tuesday afternoon after the Institute for Supply Management's factory index came in at the lowest level since mid-2009. With manufacturing activity weakening, fears of an economic downturn weighed heavily on the major stock indices.


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Despite the weak market and some negative analyst commentary, shares of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) had managed to eke out a tiny gain by early afternoon. And McCormick (NYSE:MKC) was trouncing the market after the spice company boosted its earnings guidance.

Trouble for Apple's iPhone 11

While Apple has been growing its services business to reduce its dependence on the iPhone, the device remains by far the most important contributor to the company's revenue and profit. iPhone sales have been declining in a weak market for smartphones, and the latest launch doesn't appear to be helping, at least according to a pair of analysts.

Tuesday morning brought commentary from two analysts that won't make Apple investors happy. KeyBanc found from a survey of carriers that the new iPhone lineup was seeing soft demand. Demand for the $699 iPhone 11 was particularly weak, while demand for the more expensive iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max met KeyBanc's expectations. The bank maintained a "sector weight" rating on Apple.

A multicolored iPhone 11

The iPhone 11. Image source: Apple.

Analysts at Rosenblatt also had something to say. Rosenblatt pointed to a first-week sales decline of 26% for the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max compared to sales of the previous generation of high-end iPhones, partly due to production shortages. A silver lining: iPhone 11 sales were up 10% to 15% compared to the iPhone XR.

Apple's pricing strategy, which reduced the cost of the lowest-end phone by $50, is leading to larger-than-expected declines in average selling prices, according to Rosenblatt. Apple no longer reports unit sales numbers, so investors can't calculate ASPs directly from its quarterly reports.

Rosenblatt is more pessimistic on Apple than KeyBanc, maintaining its sell rating and a $150 price target. The tech giant is scheduled to report its fiscal fourth-quarter results on Oct. 30.

A guidance bump from McCormick

Shares of spice company McCormick were up 7% at 1:20 p.m. EDT, following a mixed third-quarter report. While McCormick's revenue came in a bit short of expectations, a boost to its full-year guidance for earnings per share was enough to make investors happy.

McCormick only managed to grow revenue by 0.8% to $1.33 billion in the third quarter, although currency knocked off about 1 percentage point of growth. That number was $10 million below the average analyst estimate. Sales grew slightly in the consumer segment, but the flavor solutions segment posted a small sales decline.

Earnings growth was better, with per-share adjusted earnings up 14% to $1.46. That growth was driven by gross-margin expansion, lower operating expenses, and lower interest expense. Analysts had expected adjusted EPS of just $1.29.

Looking ahead, McCormick narrowed its full-year guidance ranges while raising its outlook for earnings per share. The company expects sales growth of 1% to 2%, with constant-currency growth between 3% and 4%. Adjusted earnings per share are expected to be between $5.30 and $5.35, up from a previous range of $5.20 to $5.30. The new earnings guidance represents growth of between 7% and 8% from 2018.

Investors overlooked the mixed third-quarter results and drove the stock higher on Tuesday. But with shares of McCormick now trading for more than 31 times adjusted earnings guidance, the company's slow growth may not be enough to keep the rally going.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.