Washington: Apple Inc. continued its downward slide Tuesday after US President Donald Trump suggested that 10 per cent tariffs could be placed on mobile phones, like the iPhone, and laptops made in China.
The shares, which have lost about a fifth of their value in a tech market rout since October, were down 1.5 per cent to $172.02 Tuesday morning in New York. On Monday, Apple briefly ceded its crown as world’s most valuable publicly traded company to Microsoft Corp.
The company already is facing reports of suppliers cutting forecasts, signalling the new iPhone models introduced in September aren’t selling as well as anticipated. Trump’s comments to the Wall Street Journal that he may include Apple’s signature product in another round of tariffs on Chinese imports are another blow for Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook.
“Maybe. Maybe. Depends on what the rate is,” the president said, referring to mobile phones and laptops. “I mean, I can make it 10 per cent, and people could stand that very easily.” Apple stock fell about 1.6 per cent in extended trading Monday following the comments.
The US is due to raise import duties on about $200 billion worth of goods from China to 25 per cent from 10 per cent on January 1. The vast majority of iPhones and other Apple products are built in China and then exported globally. Apple couldn’t be reached for comment.
Some analysts said the comments may shake investors. With consumers “clearly price sensitive” and the average sales price of an iPhone reaching almost $800, “the last thing Cook and investors want to see is additional tariffs added to iPhones and impacting demand drivers at this crucial growth juncture for the company,” Daniel Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, wrote Monday in a note.
The price of an iPhone ranges from $449 to $1,449 in the US, including older models such as the iPhone 7 that Apple still sells.
RBC analyst Amit Daryanani lowered earnings estimates for the company’s March quarter on Tuesday, citing softer demand for the iPhone from Apple suppliers. RBC also lowered its price target on the stock to $235 from $240.
Shares of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., the biggest iPhone assembler, slipped less than 1 per cent in Taiwan trading Tuesday and have dropped about 40 per cent this year. Inventec Corp., which supplies Apple and other US tech companies, fell 4 per cent to the lowest level in more than a year.
So far, Apple’s most lucrative devices, like the iPhone and iPad, have been left out of US tariffs. Earlier this year, Apple said products like the Apple Watch and AirPods would be affected before the US said it wouldn’t impose taxes on such items. Still, the company warned in September, that other items, like the Mac mini, Apple Pencil stylus, and some cables and cases, could be harmed.
The company has made a small percentage of older iPhone models in Brazil and India in recent years, in part to avoid local taxes on imported goods. Trump on several occasions has suggested that Apple should bring iPhone manufacturing to the US.