Just before the launch of the new suite of iPhones and other Apple products last week, things were looking bleak for the company. There was remarkably little pre-launch excitement and it seemed like this was going to be a rather boring round of updates for the iPhone. However, initial sales momentum is looking strong and could bode well for the company. There are also some one-off factors that could make Apple’s stock pop. According to Evercore, “We think there is inherent upside to Sept-qtr EPS given AAPL isn’t staggering their launches but announcing all the three products simultaneously … This we think will have a positive impact to revenues and EPS in the sept-qtr, though depending on the reception of these products it may be more of a pulling in of revenues from Dec-qtr”.
FINSUM: The iPhone 11 is a little more differentiated than everyone thought, and it seems to have sparked more interest than expected. This may be a less gloomy replacement cycle than expected.
The headline looks a little bearish, granted, but it honestly may be true. The stars seem to be aligning for some big price losses in Apple’ stock. The company is set to unveil the iPhone 11 today, and it is hard to remember a time when there has been less excitement. For many reasons, including this being Apple’s last 4G phone, this model year looks to be a dud, and customer demand for it looks commensurately weak. Accordingly, the replacement cycle is likely to be poor. However, market expectations don’t seem to reflect all this, which means the stock is set up for big disappointment. Even Wall Street equity research divisions are now significantly lowering price targets for the stock.
FINSUM: The smartphone market is growing increasingly commoditized and dull and it is affecting Apple too. The company has done an admirable job diversifying, but 2020 is looking bleak for Apple.
All of the last year’s fear of anti-trust regulation seem to be coming true. Tech shares dropped yesterday on news that top US regulators had divvied up jurisdiction of tech giants for a forthcoming probe. The Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, the agencies in charge of anti-trust, have decided who will manage what as they prepare to launch an anti-trust probe into Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Apple. It is still unclear exactly what will be investigated, as well as the scope of the probe. After the market closed, the US House of Representatives also announced its own investigation. The tumble in shares sent Google into a bear market.
FINSUM: This has been looming for some time, but now looks like a reality. This could be the start of some very serious volatility and changes for the FANGs.
We ran a piece yesterday highlighting the risk of China using rare earth elements as a bargaining chip in the trade war. The US currently gets 80% of its rare earths from China, and the elements are used in everything from smartphones, glass, electric vehicles, and jet engines. The biggest loser if China blocks access could be Apple. The company is currently planning a ramp up in production for its new fall products, so according to Goldman Sachs “even a short term action affecting production could have longer term consequences for the company.”
FINSUM: It is hard to calculate the financial impact at this point, but we expect it could be significant given that these elements are key to smartphone production.
One of the trade war’s big victims could be Apple. While much of the trade war panic has been focused on other products, Apple could be the biggest victim to suffer. The the reason why may have more to do with sentiment than with tariffs. While there is much talk of Chinese “national champions”, Apple is undoubtedly an American national champion in China, and with sentiment souring against the US in the face of the trade war, it is likely that Chinese consumers will move towards purchasing domestic smart phones. Apple will be forced to raise prices because of tariffs, which would accelerate the trade. China accounts for about 18% of Apple’s revenue and a higher percentage of its profits.
FINSUM: There could be a big hit to Apple’s top and bottom lines here. China could also take measures to specifically wound Apple the way Washington has done to Huawei. Anything seems to be fair game right now.