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article imageDespite banner holiday sales Apple stock suffers big drop

By Ken Hanly     Jan 3, 2019 in Business
Just over last night, Apple stock suffered a decline of more than nine percent. The downward trend was continuing in trading this morning. The stock price has declined 38 percent since last October.
Apple's stock price decline
The company halted trading yesterday afternoon in order to provide guidance for future earnings. The iPhone upgrade market has softened and this was among the factors causing a big impact on revenues.
On October 3, Apple stock was priced at $232.07 per share but has dropped $87 a share since that high point. However, the market in general has also suffered a decline. As the Techrunch article went to press the price was still down 8.19 percent at $144.98.
D. Davidson senior analyst Tom Forte said that Apple's announcement was surprising given that Apple traditionally has a strong position: “We knew that iPhone unit sales were weak, but just not how weak." The company said it is now expecting $84 billion in the quarter that ended Saturday, down from its earlier estimate of $89 billion to $93 billion.
China a key factor in Apple's decline
Forte thinks that the China situation is key to the decline as a full 20 percent of Apple sales are in China. The U.S. China trade war with accompanying tariffs on both sides is having a negative effect on Apple's Chinese business. The iPhone is much pricier than competing phones including those of the Chinese giant competitor Huawei but also foreign competitor Samsung. Given the weakening Chinese economy, many Chinese consumers simply cannot afford the high-priced iPhone. Apple is also having patent disputes with Qualcomm in China as reported in this Digital Journal article. Apple had already indicated that iPhone sales were weak in other markets as well such as: India, Russia, Brazil and Turkey.
Other than iPhone rest of Apple portfolio is up
Aside from the iPhone, the remainder of Apple's portfolio is up a huge 19 percent. The company has even been able to set aside a whopping $100 billion for a stock buy-back. Forte notes: “They have the balance sheet. They have the stock buy-back program. They still generate very significant free cash flow, and if the individual investor won’t buy the stock, then the company will buy the stock."
Cannacord Genuity believes that Apple is still a sound company in spite of the announced lower iPhone sales outlook. The company wrote in a report: “We maintain our belief Apple can expand its leading market share of the premium-tier smartphone market and the iPhone installed base (excluding refurbished iPhones) will exceed 700M in 2018. This impressive installed base should drive iPhone replacement sales and earnings, as well as cash flow generation to fund strong long-term capital returns. We reiterate our BUY rating but decrease our price target to $190 based on our lowered estimates.”
In Forte's view the company might not recover in the near term as long as the U.S.-China trade war is not resolved.
Apple's banner holiday sales
A recent article notes: "Apple today is sharing some good news in the wake of yesterday’s reveal of a significant, market-moving cut to its revenue forecast, attributed to declining iPhone sales in China’s slowing economy. The company says its App Store, at least, was having a good holiday. This year, customers spent $1.22 billion during the 2018 holiday season and broke a new single-day record on New Year’s Day."
On New Year's Day the company reported more than $322 million was spent in New York setting a record as customers bought iPhones, iPads with apps, and used their App Store gift cards.
The sales this year broke those of last year's holiday season which saw sales of $890 million and $300 million on New Year's Day. CEO of Apple Tim Cook noted in his announcement yesterday that the App Store remained one of the bright spots in Apple's services category.
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