Apple Collides With Reality

Based on its most recent quarterly numbers, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) is in extremely good shape. Revenue was up 8% to $90.1 billion. Earnings rose 4% to $1.29 per share. iPhone sales were a bit lighter than Wall Street forecasts, but Mac sales were unusually strong. This holiday season, Apple needs to show that demand for its new iPhone 14 is robust. News that suppliers need to cut shipments of some iPhones will hammer that goal.

iPhone sales face two problems, and it is unclear which is bigger. COVID-19 in China will undermine shipments. Apple management commented, “we now expect lower iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max shipments than we previously anticipated and customers will experience longer wait times to receive their new products.”

Shipments may not be the major problem. Demand for the iPhone 14 has been soft, according to Bloomberg. Apple cut production based on the anticipation that this demand would be 3 million units less than expected. This represents a drop from 90 million units to 87 million. The fall-off will dent Apple’s next quarterly reported revenue.

Apple has largely dodged the 2022 decline in the stock prices of mega-tech companies. Its share price is off 25%, compared to a 34% drop in the Nasdaq and a 46% plunge in the shares of Amazon.

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Apple’s stock market success has been based on only one factor. A slowing economy has not hurt product demand. Investors have hoped this would continue to be the case if there is a recession.

Apple has a chance to dodge a sharp stock price drop, but the window is closing. Production in China would need to pick up soon. Demand for the iPhone 14 would need to jump as well. As things are now, it is unlikely that both will happen simultaneously. Apple has a revenue problem it cannot dodge.

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